Thank you

Service Card

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks that so many people turned up to pay their final respects to Wendy. I feel bad that there were so many people that I never got to speak to everyone, it just became impossible.

It was a difficult and emotional day, but in the end I felt that it was also a fitting one. The hymns and reading were chosen by Wendy herself, so she got to do it ‘her way.’ The tribute by Darren Topp on behalf of BHS was so appropriate.

I know that we were all deeply moved by the tributes from Richard and Rebecca, and I so admired their courage in getting up to deliver them. I also want to thank our good friend Ian Morton for delivering the reading which meant so much to both of us. Wendy has excerpts from that reading as wall art about the house.

Yesterday I received a call from Juliett, the funeral director. She told me that you had generously donated almost £1,000 to Wendy’s charities on the day alone. Thank you all so much for this.

So many of you have let me know how much you all thought of Wendy. I too spoke on Wednesday, but I had to ‘tone down’ the emotion, or I would never have got through it. I often told Wendy how much I thought of her, but in her own self-deprocating way she would just say ‘you’re biased!’ But you have all shown me that she was indeed very special – it wasn’t just me. I was just the guy who was lucky enough to have her by my side every day, and I miss her terribly.

Yesterday, together with Judy and Rebecca, we took Molly for a walk in Hughenden – something I had done with Wendy many times. We stopped at a bench to rest and there was single daisy growing in the grass, which seemed very poigniant. I didn’t pick it, but left it for others to enjoy.

Today, I return to work. My employers have been very supportive, They let me work from home when Wendy needed me and they have given me the time and space I needed at the end. But I know I must pick up the pieces and carry on, I have to just take one day at a time.

Some while ago, I signed up to the Decembeard campaign. Wendy hated the idea of me growing a beard, but reluctantly agreed that I should be allowed to do my bit for Beating Bowel Cancer. I couldn’t start on the 1st of December, because I wanted to be clean shaven for her on Wednesday. But I’m starting now and will continue into January to make up for the late start. You can sponsor me here.

I still have a box of ‘Bostin Bums Calendars‘ to sell, please consider buying one if you haven’t already. We’ve lost our Wendy now, but sadly there are too many other people like her that need our help.

Finally, can I say a big thank you to some of Wendy’s special friends who are still helping and supporting me. You know who you are and I really do appreciate it.


Funeral Information

We have been touched as a family by how many people wish to come to Wendy’s funeral. We would love you to be there, so I am going to share the information here.

We are going to start by offering you refreshments from 1pm at the Oakley Hall. This sounds very grand but is in fact an unimposing building next to the church at 8 Castle Street, High Wycombe HP13 6RF. Unfortunately, the hall is upstairs and there is no lift (just in case anyone has mobility difficulties). There is a small NCP car park between the hall and the church, but it is expensive and might be full. However, the Eden Centre multi storey is only a short walk away. I have produced a google map which shows the layout and also the shortest walking route to the lifts in the Eden car park.

The church service itself begins at 3pm, and we ask that you take your seats in good time as family and close friends will follow when Wendy is brought in to the church.

The service will be followed by a Committal at the Chilterns Crematorium, Whielden Lane, Amersham, HP7 0ND. You are most welcome to come here too, and we will allow sufficient time for you to return to your car and make your way there.

It would be really helpful if you could let us know if you plan to come so that we can guage numbers.

In accordance with Wendy’s wishes, please do not buy flowers. Instead, we would ask that you donate the money to Wendy’s charities: Rennie Grove Hospice Care and Beating Bowel Cancer. You can do this via the links in the blog or hand your donations to the funeral director on the day.


Where to begin?

As I said before, there is so much to say. I think it would be overly ambitious to try to put it all in ‘one final post,’ as Wendy put it. I think that Wendy’s story isn’t over yet, so you may have to put up with a few posts from me. And besides, as soon as I hit the ‘publish’ button I will think of something else.

I feel quite dazed. This journey began back in January, and sadly became more and more difficult. Towards the end, Wendy had become progressively more dependent upon us. We had little time to ‘stop and think.’ When Wendy finally went to sleep in the early hours of yesterday morning, my feelings were so mixed. I was relieved that her suffering was finally at an end. But someone like Wendy leaves a huge void.

Wendy fitted that classic description of someone who could ‘light up a room.’ She was vivacious, enthusiastic, funny and passionate. She had an enormous heart and gave of herself endlessly. I feel truly privileged to have spent fourteen amazing years by her side. They have been fourteen years filled with love, joy and fun. What has been wonderful about the blog is the way in which some of her personality transferred onto the pages. You get a real feel for the kind of lady she was, and as a result, you have taken her to your hearts even if you didn’t know her.

I have read and received so many tributes to Wendy via these pages, Facebook and in person. So many that I just haven’t any chance to respond to them all individually. Please know that I read them all with pride and gratitude and your words move me.

I have also been moved by the way in which she has been treated by nurses. I understand now what kind of a special person it takes to be a nurse. During the last days she was tended by nurses in Ward 10 at Stoke Mandeville who have left me in awe of the way they could look after so many patients, and yet still smile and tend to my wife’s needs patiently. They pulled out all of the stops to get Wendy home when it became clear that nothing else could be done medically. Wendy’s wish was to spend her last days at home and they made it happen for her.

We discovered a wonderful charity called Rennie Grove Hospice Care (formerly Ian Rennie) who supply nurses to help with end of life care. I cannot tell you how many times they were there for us when we needed them. In Wendy’s last hours she was tended by Ian Rennie nurses with such tenderness and respect and I am so grateful to them.

Wendy also had some true, special friends (you know who you are) who have been there for us in the difficult days. Whether to just come and sit with her, or run an errand or help in so many ways, you proved your true friendship to Wendy.

She had the good fortune to be employed by a really special company. BHS have helped and supported us as a family in so many ways that they didn’t have to do. They stood by her and repayed the loyalty that she showed them in ways that are truly remarkable. These included buying her a special bed and offering to pay for carers to stay at our home. They also made it possible for her to attend the company conference, and senior people have visited Wendy at home and in hospital. Finally, they fully backed and funded the Bostin Bums calendar (I do hope that you have one).

While I feel a deep sadness right now, I also feel tremendous gratitude. Wendy and I packed a lifetime into fourteen years. She truly was a wonderful wife, and I have also lost my best friend. The years that we spent together I will never forget, and the love I have for her still burns inside me. I have been blessed.

Many of you have asked about Wendy’s funeral arrangements. I know that so many of you would like to come and pay your final respects, and you will be very welcome. Fortunately, we talked about this and Wendy wrote down her wishes for me.

Wendy’s funeral will take place at All Saints Church, High Wycombe at 3pm on Wednesday the 9th of December, followed by a committal at the Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham. As this is quite late in the day, we are planning to offer people refreshments before the service instead of afterwards. This will allow people with long journeys to arrive relaxed and refreshed (we will provide more details of this in due course). She has also chosen her favourite hymns, so please arrive in good voice! Finally she has stipulated NO flowers apart from the single arrangement that she has requested and we have ordered for her. She would love it if instead you donated the money you would have spent to her two charities: Beating Bowel Cancer and Rennie Grove Hospice Care. You can do so via the links on the blog, or hand your donations to the funeral directors on the day.

Wendy is also survived by her mum Judith, and two children Richard and Rebecca. They have all shown incredible dignity and strength throughout this journey. I am very fortunate to have gained these people in my family through Wendy. They all need your love and support too. We will stick together, and I will continue to regard them as part of my family forever.

A few days ago, Wendy said to me ‘I’ve lived a lifetime with you.’ I feel the same way. I have so many precious moments to look back on. We were lucky, we learned the importance of picking daisies when we had the opportunity. If you have an ambition, don’t put it off – do it soon. None of us know what is around the next corner, so don’t wait until it’s too late. Whether that’s swimming with dolphins or riding a motorbike naked in the sun. We picked our daisies and you must too.


The struggle is over

This morning, our beautiful daughter, wife and mother lost her struggle with bowel cancer.

Wendy asked me to write a piece for you all when this time came, and I will. There is so much I want to say, but I will need a little time.

For now, please forgive the short update and grant us some time to come to terms with our loss.



Wendy Update

So on Wednesday night, Wendy discharged herself from Stoke Mandeville. They had done a CT scan which did not appear to show any spread of cancer to her liver, which we were obviously very glad to hear. Also she appears to have beaten the blood infection (sepsis) that she had had.
On the downside, she has a nasty chest infection and is feeling very weak. She is taking amoxycillin for this, but it is expected to take several days to work. She will have new blood tests on Tuesday, and in the meantime the plan is to rest up at home.
Readers who have been concentrating will know that she was planning to be on the Isle of Wight at the weekend, but she simply isn’t well enough to travel.
As I know Isle Of Wight store have been great supporters of Wendy and Beating Bowel Cancer, I plan to make the journey by myself tomorrow and turn up with the calendars. Secret Biscuit Agent will also be there. The planned launch time is 3pm and the local press will also be there. Only 200 calendars will be available – so make sure you don’t miss out.


Wendy back in Stoke Mandeville

Just a quick update. Last night we noticed that Wendy had become jaundiced. The Ian Rennie nurse, Suzanne arranged for our GP to come out. Then I received a call from Stoke Mandeville to say they weren’t happy with her blood tests and I should take her back. The jaundice and increased liver function markers can be a side effect of the antibiotic, but because she has bowel cancer we cannot just assume that. She will undergo full tests including a CT scan in the morning to pin down exactly what is going on. In the meantime, she will stay in Stoke Mandeville Hospital.


Update Tuesday 20th October

Steve here.

I thought Wendy would want me to keep you posted as to why she didn’t write yesterday.

Yesterday morning she was very drowsy and unsteady on her legs. She had an appointment with a pain specialist and I managed to get her there. The pain doctor thought her drowsiness was down to an increase in gabapentin (pain medication) and that the dose should be reduced. She was also due to have chemo but they didn’t want to do it as she was so drowsy. So the plan was to go home and sleep it off and try again tomorrow.

By 8pm she was still just as sleepy and we were becoming worried. I phoned Marina (Rennie Grove nurse) who said she ought to be seen by a doctor, and we decided I would call an ambulance. The first paramedic arrived within five minutes, shortly followed by a second team. They quickly identified that she was running a high temperature and her heart rate was too fast. They suspected some kind of infection, and with chemotherapy patients they don’t take any chances so she was taken by ambulance to Stoke Mandeville, where she is now.

Her mom, Rebecca and I were there till about 3.30 am, and we have now split up into shifts. Rebecca just phoned to say her temperature was down and she was drinking coffee. Her mom has just gone back and I will take over later.

I will try to update you later.

Sorry, no Wendy today :-(

Sorry Wendy fans, Steve here.

As you all know, Wendy has had several weeks of pain to endure while they switched her chemo. The new chemo (FOLFIRI) began last Monday, and it does seem to be having an effect already: the visible swelling of the lymph nodes in her neck has reduced very noticably and the ones affecting her leg feel better too. On the other hand she still has pain in her back. The downside with FOLFIRI is the extreme chemo fatigue. Whilst this is to be expected, the accumulation of pain and fatigue has really got to her today and she is feeling very low.

We had been invited to a function tonight, and I know how sad she is that she didn’t feel up to it.

Wendy has faced this illness with much humour, and a very positive attitude. Those who already know her will not be surprised – she is a very strong lady. But right now, it has got on top of her and I can’t say I blame her. I know she draws great strength from all the love and support she gets from you every day. She is also heartened that the Equal Bowel Cancer Screening petition has already taken off, and I hope many more of you will sign it.

I would like to thank you all for the support, encouragement and prayers that you give for her. I’m sure she will be back very soon.





My wife’s is broken

Wendy has been asking me to write something for a while. To tell the truth, it has been hard to know where to start.


Now, I don’t want to make you all reach for the sick bucket, but it is worth telling you that, by way of background, Wendy is the ‘other half of my orange.’ If you read about Julie you will know where this comes from.


Having had two failed marriages is nothing to be proud of, but it does make you realise when something is good. Wendy is more than just a wife, she is my best friend and the centre of my universe. We have been married for eleven years and lived together for about two and half years before that. We have had amazing adventures and travelled all over Europe, much of it by motorcycle. I never get bored with her, ever. This doesn’t begin to tell you the half of it, but I am trying to spare you the sick bucket. But I do adore her (sorry).


Like many couples, I suppose we were settled in to our routines. We worked, planned meals and did all the usual family stuff. We were always planning our next holiday as these spaces were precious to us in our busy lives. Times when we could be ‘just the two of us.’


When we got together we had four kids between us. Refereeing was hard work, but rewarding too, of course. We have had some great ‘family times’ with all of them. They all grew up and became less dependent, as they do. We love them all but it’s nice that we don’t have to ‘manage’ them any more, or at least not as much as before.


Life was comfortable and we were happy. Perhaps we took some of it for granted though.


Wendy is the least likely person to ever take a day off sick. She has always claimed to be immune to colds. She isn’t, but she will just carry on anyway. When she complained of abdominal pain in January I knew it must be severe for her to even mention it. Because of the location of Harry (the Cecum) the pain was in exactly the same place as appendicitis would be. In fact, even the doctor in the Surgical Assessment ward thought the same, getting her to sign the consent forms for appendectomy. He opined that it was unlikely to be cancer, as she was too young.


No worries, appendix out, a couple of weeks off work – sorted. But the next day, they thought it would be wise to do a CT scan, and this wasn’t so good. There were grim faces as we were told something didn’t look right on the scan, and a colonoscopy would be needed.


I still didn’t panic. The colonoscopy report was confusing, as it listed a whole string of things which were normal. Next to ‘cecum’ he had written ‘cannot rule out mitotic lesion.’ They just want to be sure then? No need to panic.


The biopsy result were sent to the bowel surgeon. There was this weird phone message which said ‘we need to discuss this in person, and you need to bring a relative.’ Now I was starting to get scared. That sounded very ominous. Could it be cancer? We couldn’t wait for that appointment so we bullied our GP into pulling up the biopsy results. It was cancer.


By now, Wendy and I are reading about bowel cancer on the internet. Always a dangerous thing. We scared ourselves silly. We finally got to meet the surgeon. It still sounded not as bad as I had feared. He said it ‘appeared to be contained in one place’ and that it could be a ‘keyhole procedure.’ So maybe we found it early? An operation, a few weeks of recovery and then we can put it behind us? He did talk about lymph nodes, and how they would have to be sent away for testing after the operation.


As we waited for operation day, Wendy’s pain became worse and worse. It was so awful to see her like this. But we clung on to operation day as the day when things would begin to get better. Mercifully, the operation was actually brought forward.


On the day of the operation, I delivered Wendy to the hospital and then had to say goodbye to her as they led her away. The surgeon promised to phone me when it was over. I left her at about 1pm and I was expecting this call by 5pm. Well 5pm came and went so I phoned the hospital. No news. 6pm also came and went. Now I am starting to panic. Had something gone terribly wrong? Finally the surgeon phoned me: “Your wife is well, but it took longer than expected. The tumour was adhered to the wall of her abdomen.”


At about 8pm I was allowed to see her. It was like something out of a hospital drama. She was attached to several machines and there were tubes coming out of everywhere. I felt like saying ‘what have you done to her? She looked better than this before!’ But the nurse assured me she was fine and fed her coffee and toast. I couldn’t quite get my head round it all.


She was only in hospital for a few days, but they were long days. She had been given an epidural, but when it was withdrawn the pain was awful. She had a machine that allowed her to give herself a shot of morphine every five minutes. After only one minute she was desperately pressing the button again. She was also very emotional and doesn’t even recall some of the things she said. I think it was about day three when I knew she was feeling better. She hated the hospital food and asked me to smuggle in Macdonalds!


She made friends with Karen on that ward, just by pulling faces and making thumbs up and thumbs down gestures. I was struck by how many people go through this every week. I was also struck by the amazing dedication of the nurses. Every one of them had a cheery manner, despite some of the unpleasantness of their duties. They are all wonderful.


Wendy being Wendy, the day after being discharged went back to take tins of biscuits for the nurses, and also for the patients she had befriended. Her recovery from the operation went relatively smoothly. At first she could only walk very slowly and I had to help her to bathe and dress. But there were no complications and she got stronger every day. We went for a follow up visit with the surgeon. They had found cancer in about half of the lymph nodes he had removed and there were likely to be others. We were facing chemo. The very word ‘chemotherapy’ struck fear into both of us. Visions of being made violently ill by something that was intended to make you better filled us with dread. But there was really no alternative. Without chemo the prognosis would not be good. We would just have to face it and deal with it.


We managed to fit in a blessed week in Majorca. She was six or seven weeks post surgery and strong enough (just about) to enjoy a week of sunbathing and eating out. The travelling was hard on her though. She still was only able to walk short distances slowly. A special mention here for the Easyjet gate staff at Luton. When I paid extra for so called ‘Priority Boarding,’ it was because my wife had difficulty walking. So it was really galling that you let everyone stampede across the tarmac to the steps at the same time! I’m surprised she didn’t get knocked down in the rush. I know you think we are all cattle. But some of us cannot rush! In fairness the Easyjet staff in Palma did it properly which made the return journey less painful for her. And to everyone else that took part in the stampede, if you see someone who has difficulty walking, please be patient. It might be you on day. Rant over! But it was a wonderful week and just what we both needed.


Then the chemo began, and with it the ‘Mine’s Broken’ blog. In true Wendy style, she tells it ‘warts and all’ in the hope that someone, somewhere will read it and say ‘that’s how I feel, that’s what it is like for me.’ She hopes that someone will find it helpful. The feedback she has received so far has both moved and encouraged her. We recently met someone who beat cancer seven years ago, and he said, ‘I could have written that – that was how I felt.’


Now the hard part.


Wendy wants me to write something about how I feel. She hopes it might help someone whose partner has cancer. I don’t know about that. Most of the time I feel ‘this is shit!’ It’s so unfair. Wendy doesn’t deserve this. Does anybody? I also feel very proud. Wendy continues to think of others all the time. She has inspired and moved so many people by the way she is dealing with this. People we know and people we don’t. A lot of the time I feel angry, but there is no one to be angry with. I feel numb. I feel confused about my feelings. I want to know if she is going to beat this shitty disease. But no one can tell me that. There are statistics, but Wendy is not a statistic.


For now, I just have to live the famous line from the marriage vows, ‘in sickness and in health.’


I have to be strong, to be there for her. To fetch her a coffee and proof read her blog posts. For years, when her computer or her phone wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do I would hear her cry ‘mine’s broken.’ Usually I could fix it for her.


This time, Wendy’s really is broken – and I can’t fix it.


That makes me sad.