Thank you for visiting, I hope you will find this blog of my journey both interesting and inspiring.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Christmas 2012

I take you back to the early evening of Christmas Eve 2011, we’re making the journey from Norfolk to Vicky’s family home in Cambridgeshire, when Vicky says to me that she believes this will be her last Christmas with us all. I looked across at Vicky as her beautiful eyes connected with mine, I listened to her words & heard the emotions underlying them. I can vividly recall the moment my hand enveloped Vicky’s, and as we held one another’s gaze I said “I hope with every cell of my being that you’re wrong, yet devastatingly we just don’t know, what we do know is that we’re here right now and we have a whole Christmas to enjoy” We did just that & guess what? We got another one on top of it! 

A year on we make our way from our country barn to begin our festivities by enjoying a Christmas meal with my family. I say ‘enjoy’, at this time Vicky’s illness was causing side affects such as a constantly dry mouth, uncomfortable abdomen, acute fatigue and weakness, so the prospect of large meals was less than appetising for Vicky. However, despite these side affects encroaching into each day, Vicky was able to dig deep and welcome these festivities with a calm approach which allowed her to embrace the moments she could enjoy. 

We sat around my family’s dinner table, Vicky and I sat alongside my Sister and our young nephew and niece. Donning Christmas hats we began to savour the traditional tastes of Christmas. My Mum enjoys being creative in the kitchen, so Christmas is a perfect opportunity to concoct a feast which we all enjoyed. Vicky chose to have a taster of some of the dishes available, which I could see was challenging for our lovely girl, yet in her eyes was that twinkle of determination. There would be no missing Christmas.

There was a good feeling around the dinner table, with our family tradition of opening table presents and the cliched cracker jokes filling the room. At one point I was rolling up pieces of serviette and throwing them cheekily at my young nephew, however he couldn’t figure out where they were coming from and while Vicky was staying quiet throughout, she gave me a cheeky grin as she loved a bit of mischief! 

After a couple of festive hours with my family we made our way into ‘Bessie’ the Jeep, and began the journey from Norfolk over to Cambridgeshire to share Christmas with Vicky’s parents, siblings, grandparents, the dogs Lolly & Toast and number of family cats.

We initially chatted merrily on the journey, and with festive music floating throughout the Jeep Vicky rested her eyes for the remainder of the journey. By resting like this Vicky was able to squeeze the most out of each occasion, even at times adding a splash of zest into the moment. Vicky’s drive & determination encompassed all she did and I’m sure you’ll recall her talking previously about her difficulties in ‘letting go’ and resting. Therefore taking this decision to rest before reaching her family, is just one of countless examples of how Vicky had continued to adapt & make the most out of the hand she had been dealt. I wonder how each of us can take something from this & apply it positively to our own lives.

Arriving at the Johnston family home we’re greeted by smiling faces, hugs all around & paws & licks from Lolly dog. As one of four children, it always strikes me how returning back to the nest of the family home recharges and soothes each of them in their own unique way.  This was particularly evident on this occasion, including for Vicky, where being around one another held something for each of them. Despite the underlying emotions around Vicky’s health & the uncertainty of the future, we were all together and for that we can be grateful. 
After settling into the festively decorated ‘Cornish’ room we then made our way into the kitchen, the hub of the home, where we kicked back on the sofa & caught up with the family. It was somewhat of a favoured tradition of Vicky’s to attend the local Christmas Eve church service, where last year I remember looking around the church at the content faces as many of the congregation sung the festive hymns with gusto! Unfortunately this year Vicky felt too unwell, so we relaxed at home & enjoyed a gentle evening talking, laughing & resting in each others company.

“Happy Christmas beautiful” Christmas Day 2012 was here! At this time sleep was sporadic for Vicky so we were up early. Waking gently together, we had a Christmas cuddle before I padded off to fetch us a couple of mugs of tea. I remember sipping these together as we enjoyed the moment of peace & a little excitement for the day ahead. 

Opening our bedroom door we found that Santa had been kind enough to leave us both stockings full of presents! Scooping these up we made our way into the kitchen & set camp on the sofa where we were joined initially by Vicky’s mum & then later in the morning various family members, including the arrival of Vicky’s lovely Grandparents. A vivid memory from this moment is of Vicky receiving a woolly hat in the style of an owl. Looking at us as she puts the hat on she let out a cheeky grin which brought smiles to all of our faces. Vicky very much embraced an affiliation with owls in late 2012 and early 2013 due to her shorter, curly hair & of course those stunning eyes of hers. In my opinion owls should feel rather honoured to be compared with such a beautiful girl but frankly I’m biased! ;)

As mid morning arrived and stretched closer to midday, the kitchen busied with Christmas breakfast which was followed by the preparation of the main meal of the day, a traditional Christmas feast! Vicky’s sister had volunteered to be head chef for the day & was busying herself with masterminding this feat! The challenge was truly achieved as we all enjoyed a tasty Christmas meal with the usual festivities of cracker jokes, hats & merriment. As I mentioned previously, Vicky’s appetite was particularly low at this time which meant that meal times could be challenging. Eating every meal alongside Vicky on a day to day basis, I could see how difficult eating was becoming for her and with the added pressures of wanting to join us all in the moment, this meal had the potential to be emotionally & physically challenging. Once again though Vicky did admirably by managing to strike a balance of having a ‘taster’ portion of her favourite foods & not leaving herself feeling too uncomfortable. A favoured quote of Vicky’s feels rather apt right now “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

Following this leisurely paced feast we all retired to the sitting room in preparation for the giving of presents. Vicky kicked back on one of the two sofas with the rest of the family filling the room with smiles, conversation and a sense of togetherness. While the presents were handed out by Vicky’s youngest sibling, Toast and Lolly padded around snuffling at the presents and doing their best to open their own! 

Once the abundance of presents had completed their journey from under the tree to their new owners, from my spot on the floor alongside Vicky, I looked up and all I could see was a pair of large eyes blinking out of a mountain of presents! I do believe as a collective family we may have gone a little over board on the present buying but you know what? We wanted to! 

Rather ironically though it wasn’t the receiving of presents that Vicky enjoyed at Christmas. It was clear by Vicky’s smile & the twinkle in her eye as her family opened their gifts from us that the magic of Christmas was in the being together & making others happy. Vicky always loved to give presents so much more than to receive. The happiness of those Vicky cared about would always come first.

The evening enveloped us as various family members relaxed around the house, nibbling at the festive food & having low key chats. As with almost everything in Vicky’s day to day life at this stage, the shadow of her illness was difficult to ignore yet there were times where Vicky, her family and I were able to enjoy a smile, a chuckle and a sense of being together. 

Even in what we now know were Vicky’s last few weeks with us, Vicky taught us what really counts is being together & appreciating the presence of those you care about. Vicky loved the festive season as it sparks a warm feeling in many & a sense of people drawing close to one another.  I’d like to share a conversation between Vicky & I where she wished people wouldn’t wait till Christmas to embrace this spirit, as it’s so easy to take the people in your life for granted & to assume there will be always be a tomorrow. Other than yourself, what’s really stopping you from showing appreciation to those important people in your life? Vicky really liked the saying ‘Get out of your own way’ & it feels apt right now because when you do the view can be beautiful and bright. 

We rolled with the punches, made lemonade out of lemons, laughed where we could, hugged close & rested together. As a family we created & shared Christmas 2012 together. These moments will forever be held close to our hearts. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Coco Cola truck is on its way . .


I hope you're all having an enjoyable start to 2013 & squeezing the most out of the opportunities around you. I will be writing our Christmas blog post this weekend so keep your eyes open for an update on Vicky's festive shenanigans ;)

Speak soon 

Fynn x

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The birth of a phoenix

Two years ago today Vicky had a large phoenix tattooed on her lower back. This tattoo symbolised so beautifully her decision to embrace life & fill her days with the people, experiences and emotions that were true to her passions. The time is always right to seize control of your life; achieve what seems impossible & soar above your limitations. Vicky didn't let her illness stop her embracing some breathtaking moments. What's stopping you?

5th February 2011
The world is out there; go play!

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Victoria Clare Cornish nee Johnston’s physical life story deserves to be told, remembered and embraced in a way that feels right for each of you. An inspirational life lesson full of love & passion, that if you allow her too, Vicky’s actions and spirit will shine a light through even the darkest of moments. As Vicky progressed through her journey she created a life that made her smile and this was in the face of a looming shadow of illness. Change can happen but it requires courage, passion & commitment; as they say ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Best get started! 

On the 27th November 2012 Vicky and I jetted off to Rome! As a Durham University Archaeology graduate, Vicky was particularly excited about the richness of history and culture awaiting us. We had researched the history of Rome and what monuments we wanted to experience, drawing together a priority list of ‘must do’s’. As you know from Vicky’s previous post, her health had taken a knock with a recent spell in hospital due to an acute chest infection, the accumulative symptoms of her cancer, the Cushings and side affects of her numerous medications. Therefore with a weakening body but a passionate and courageous spirit shining, Vicky spent time focusing with me on our shortlist of experiences. A trait Vicky and I shared was one of excitement at experiencing new things, so simply drawing this list together got us feeding off one another’s energy and grinning. The city of Rome is bursting with history & culture therefore it is no surprise that we were so excited about exploring this amazing city. How could we not be excited with jetting of to experience world famous monuments such as the Vatican, Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Sistine Chapel and the Trevi Fountain to name a few! That’s not even mentioning the culinary delights we had heard so much about!
As each experience had to be absorbed fully the list was ambitious for a 3 day trip:

  1. Explore the Colosseum - Tick off the bucket list!
  2. Experience & absorb the Vatican - Tick off the bucket list!
  3. Marvel at the Sistine Chapel 
  4. Throw coins into the Trevi Fountain
  5. Taste authentic Italian coffee and pizza!

Vicky & Fynn's bucket list

Now, I feel it’s appropriate to start in a fashion that Vicky would approve of. Being at one with history, Vicky added a fascinating dimension to visiting new places because it seemed no matter where we went she would be able to tell me something about it!  Here we go my love, for you; Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, some believe it to have been founded in 753 BC with the legend of Romulus and Remus. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean for over seven hundred years. 

We had an early morning flight from Stansted Airport on the morning of the 28th November so we booked into the on-site Hilton hotel the afternoon before. I remember us getting into our room, kicking back on the bed  & having a cuddle while chatting about the days to come. After an evening meal in the restaurant we retired to our room in preparation for an early hours wake up. I recall feeling somewhat anxious lying in bed that night as I could see the effort & determination from Vicky to make this trip. With all that I am I would protect and support Vicky yet at times the reality of ‘there’s only so much you can do’ would hit home. Where are my superhuman powers when you need them?! 

We closed our eyes and it seemed within an instant that the alarm was sounding. It’s time to rock and roll! We staggered out to the waiting taxi and made our way to the departure lounge. Vicky always found the formalities of the airport daunting so I would handle the paperwork & let her go through the scanners first to check all was ok and once we both ‘survived’ she would greet me with a huge relieved smile and a hug! This is the girl that has lived abroad, travelled the world, fighting the biggest challenge we could ever face, so fear not it seems we all have our idiosyncrasies! 

We both loved the sensation of the plane taking off, the rush and roar of the engines is simply thrilling. Grinning at each other as we felt the nose lift off the ground we said “We’re off! Rome here we come!”. “Ladies and Gentleman, we’re preparing for landing into Rome Ciampino Airport where the temperature is 10 Celcius with light cloud cover” We weren’t expecting sunshine and to be honest we didn’t care right now because we were about to land in Rome! After everything that had happened over the past few days, weeks, months and years we were here! 

Having collected our luggage we hustled through the now heavy rain to a bus heading for the centre of Rome, which is several miles from Ciampino airport. Only a day before we left we managed to get Vicky some glasses as her vision had become blurry due to her high levels of cortisol, and I felt so incredibly peaceful as I watched her looking out the bus window absorbing the new sights of Rome. 

Arriving at our hotel we checked in and were given directions to our hotel room. Ah, problem. I was given the directions. My sense of direction is wobbly at best and as a result we ended up taking an old school service elevator up a few floors into a rather derelict looking part of the hotel. Our alarm bells were ringing and despite my attempts to put a positive spin on it Vicky sensibly relied on past experience and concluded we were lost! Vicky wasn’t just beautiful she was smart too! I agreed and went back for a recap on the directions . . . given to both of us this time :) Exhausted from the travelling and the hotel exploring we found the hotel cafe and tucked into a tasty venison burger & macchiato. We sat there for some time chatting, laughing and enjoying the freedom that getting away unlocks. The acoustics of the room carried our voices and I recall hearing our laughter carry through the air. Simply beautiful.  

Fynn & Vicky outside their hotel

The following day we made our way to our first morning of the hotel’s breakfast selection. A typical continental selection with choices of pastries, cheeses, meats, yoghurts and a cooked selection. However there was an abundance of cake which simply baffled us for a breakfast option, however they did do a rather tasty looking dipping sauce which we took a few sachets of to make at a later date (These are sitting in our kitchen as I type this). As it was breakfast time Vicky had to take a large batch of medications which she found hard, there were no less than 10 tablets to take plus an effervescent potassium supplement drink. A pill may be just a pill but it’s what it symbolises and the effects they hold. No matter how hard she tried it took it’s toll on a time when Vicky just wanted to relax and think of the day ahead. On a lighter note, we of course did the obligatory filling of Vicky’s bag with pastries while no one was looking before we left the breakfast hall. We scuttled out with a grin and a sense of achievement between us! 

We ordered a taxi to the Vatican, unsure of distances and directions we though it best to conserve energy, which in hindsight proved to be a wise move. Twisting and turning through the streets of Rome with the faces of the drivers oscillating from dead pan to extreme emotion in a blink of an eye. Gripping each other’s hands we absorbed the experience! Driving past the Vatican Museum to St. Peter’s Basilica, we were wowed by the stunning architecture all around us. Rome truly is beautiful. Paying the taxi driver once he landed his craft, Vicky nudged me and said “Fynn, we have friends” pointing out the window towards three street sellers waiting to give us an umbrella for the opportunity to pounce into our wallets! The guys came around us and were forceful in their gestures and pretty physically close so after a couple of polite attempts both Vicky and I in unison shouted ‘NO” at them which seemed to have the desired effect. 

St. Peter's Basilica

Now free from the umbrella folk we took a moment to look up at St. Peter’s Basilica which no matter how many times you see a picture is a remarkable building with such fine & exquisite detail. On one side of the entrance stands a statue of St. Paul holding a sword and on the other a statue of St. Paul holding the keys to heaven. The planning and architectural skills to build and craft this fine building is breathtaking and I recall Vicky being completely absorbed by the stories of our guide. The inside of St. Peter’s Basilica is stunning, with a myriad of colours and marble highlighting the fine detail in each of the countless statues.  Each one holding their own unique story. The guide itself took approximately 90 minutes & unfortunately at this stage Vicky was feeling fatigued and her legs were becoming weak. Despite my best efforts to find a chair for her, there were none, Vicky determinedly found strength and the will to follow the tour around a space which can house over two full sized football pitches! Vicky was nothing short of remarkable & she still found the energy to remark on how the Vatican State managed to acquire more of the rare Egyptian red marble than Egypt itself, which is worth more gram for gram than gold. Cue a wry smile. Our time here was full of peace, we held each other close, absorbed the history and connected in our thoughts. I’m not an advocate of organised religion yet being in a place that has taken so much passion, commitment and lives to create there was something beautiful in the air. Go & see what you find. 

Taking a moment in St. Peter's Basilica

Tick off our bucket list!

We made our way from St. Peter’s Basilica out into the now heavy rain to go and find a local restaurant. The rain demanded that we swallow our pride and purchase a poncho for Vicky from one of the street sellers; honestly it was a good thing they were there as the rain was insistent! After a short walk through the rain, the efforts of the tour were taking their toll and Vicky felt particularly fatigued. Despite being arm in arm with me, while walking up a step Vicky fell, which was upsetting for her and because of her high cortisol meant she bruised easily. I helped Vicky up and we made our way into a cafe and over a hot chocolate we shared some tears together at the upset, frustration, the embarrassment Vicky felt and unfairness of this horrible illness. I remember thinking, begging, pleading in my mind, making any deal I could fathom so I could free Vicky from this; Vicky did not deserve this yet I could not stop it. All I could do was make the best of what we had and hold her close. 

We went onto a restaurant close by and shared a gigantic calzone before tucking into some delicious stracciatella & pistachio flavoured gelato, finished with a cappuccino of course. Sharing this time with Vicky was fun, we people watched, we guessed at the menu, teased one another, smiled together and shared our bond of closeness. You know when there are times when it’s apparent that no matter what happens you will always be there for each other? This is one of those times. Heading back to the hotel we retired to the bar for another coffee, we were in Italy after all, before heading up to our room for some much needed rest. I’m unsure how much to share on here but I will take Vicky’s lead of honesty and admit to lying next to her as she rested that night and just held her for hours. 

Calzone & laughter
The morning of day two, the last of our full days in Rome, we enjoyed a selection from breakfast and fueled ourselves to explore the Colosseum. Vicky was very excited about the day ahead and had a zest in her step. So much so she was sure that she didn’t want to get a taxi and wanted to use the metro system. Now I’m a fairly well travelled guy and like to roll with the punches but I’m sure you can understand the concerns in my mind considering the day before. However who am I to say no to such passion and determination? If Vicky wants to do it then let’s go for it because I will be right by her side and if it gets too difficult then we just call a cab. 

Off we went, we bought our tickets and found our way through the metro system with ease! 30 minutes from leaving our hotel, walking to the metro station, taking the correct train and we arrived right at the base of the Colosseum. Walking out of the metro station and looking up at this giant building that has been standing there for years upon years was incredible. We took a moment and just took it all in; we were standing next to the Colosseum, in Rome, together. Wow!! 

After negotiating a rather busy road we made our way into the Colosseum and managed to avoid a long queue. A tip from us if you wish to go, when purchasing a ticket buy the audio guide ticket which is only a few euros more than a standard ticket but it means you skip the queue which when we were there held a 45 minute wait. I looked upon this as a blessing to be grateful for because a 45 minute standing wait would not have been ideal. Instead we ventured through the arches of the Colosseum, collected our audio guides and began exploring this amazing ruin. Again the history within this building is immense and had both of us absorbed. Vicky had a big grin on her face and was fascinated to learn the history of each section of the Colosseum. It’s a stunning ruin, but sadly it is a ruin, in it’s prime the Colosseum shined with white marble which was later taken to help build the Vatican. A real shame yet the manner in which we were fascinated goes to show just how breathtaking it must have been in its prime. This experience was unforgettable and as we made our way around we chattered on about watching Gladiator in the evening! 

After a good two hours of exploring we decided the roars we could hear were not from lions waiting to pounce upon a gladiator, rather they were from our rumbling stomachs so we made our way to a local pizza restaurant. We both ordered a pizza and having under estimated the portion sizes we needed two tables for them to fit! This fired great laughs and meant we shared plenty of time relaxing over our food and chatting about our day so far. Oh and we also did a spot of people watching where we watched another tourist couple argue over their Italian skills and ended up ordering nothing other than coca-cola! We felt a little greedy considering our multiple tables but hey when in Rome! 

After our feast we made our way back to our hotel via the metro and while walking from the station we were blessed with a stunning sun set. Vicky and I share a love for sunshine as we believe it holds a sense of healing and peace. What more can we ask for? The evening was spent enjoying the film Gladiator with a few tasty nibbles. The days were tiring but oh so worth it as despite all the physical and emotional knocks Vicky had each and every day, there were times when these were pushed to the back and the moment was truly at the forefront. Victoria Cornish you are nothing short of a superstar. 

Our last day in Rome arrived! We again had a restful breakfast in the restaraunt and then shared a coffee on a sofa with the sunshine beaming down. The little moments really do count and I thank Vicky for that lesson because she taught me that it’s ok to stop for 10 minutes and as I put it ‘just be’. You know what? I wouldn’t exchange those 10 minutes for all the riches in the world. 

After checking out of our hotel we made our way by taxi into the centre of Rome, in particular the Vatican Museum, as we wanted to experience the Sistine Chapel. This Chapel is often talked about but I didn’t know much about it, yet Vicky quite clearly said to me “We can’t go to Rome and not see the Sistine Chapel”. Wasn’t she right! The Museum itself required a fair amount of walking which was hard going for Vicky, so we rested where we could and I held her close as much as possible. Yet reflecting back on the time now, it was that determination and passion of Vicky’s that got her around. The history held in the museum is overwhelming and we spent quite some time learning and chatting through the vast range of displays. I captured a picture here which I hold so close to my heart and encapsulates our ‘live in the moment’ ethos. Vicky has stopped and is absorbing the moment while the world spins around her.

It's all about the moments

We made our way through the museum to the Sistine Chapel which was beautiful. The detail and love that has gone into creating those images is incomparable and when you stop and lose yourself in them, your thoughts can roam free and that is something special. This was magnified by the fact we were holding one another, I could feel Vicky’s hands around my back and her head resting on my shoulder. Despite the hundreds of people in the chapel itself it goes to show that if you’re focused on something you truly can create your own world. 

Our final venture into Rome was to the Trevi Fountain to throw in some coins which legend says will ensure your return. Vicky was understandably skeptical about this theory yet in the moment why not embrace it and go with it. Sadly Vicky will not be physically returning to the Trevi Fountain but she will be carried in my heart on my return and I’m sure the thousands of you that follow this blog will think of Vicky if you visit the Trevi Fountain. 

Vicky & Fynn at The Trevi Fountain

The fountain itself is huge and again the intricacy of the sculptures set a scene that is full of power. We dodged in and out of the hundreds of other tourists and made our way to a restaraunt to enjoy a final meal before catching our flight back to the UK. We sat outside despite the chill in the air, ensuring we were next to the patio heater, unlike the rather drunken but jolly Russian tourists that were fully embracing their time outside! Toasting farewell to Rome and saying thank you for our time here we then made our way in a taxi to the airport. The time in Rome was akin to Vicky’s life at the time, oscillating anywhere between peacefully happy to determined courage. I am eternally grateful I shared this with you Vicky.

Writing this I am sitting in the oversized, sunshine yellow beanbag that I bought Vicky for her meditation/reflection space, sipping a coffee from our much loved machine which was bought for us as an anniversary gift by Vicky’s parents, Toast lying by my side as the melodies from the playlist from Vicky’s life celebration (wake) are carrying through the air. Writing this has been a whirlwind full of smiles, some chuckles, tears running down my face and feeling disorientated. What else can be expected when you lose the centre of your world? Yet what amazing memories that can only inspire you to go out there and live life passionately. 

Next up December & Christmas 2012. Thank you.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Paying our respects

Morning to you all,

Firstly I have been taken a back by the volume of readers absorbing Vicky's beautifully written account of her journey. I'm sure you will agree that our Vicky possessed a fine talent for describing her experiences in a way that sparks our imagination into action. I hope that you are each taking what you need from Vicky's journey whether it be hope, strength, inspiration or whatever fits with you right now. While we are each on our own personal journey's please continue to share Vicky's story as making a difference to others is the legacy she truly deserves.

Vicky and I often talked of mindfulness and found it a useful approach both in the times when light was shining upon our days and when the darkness threatened to cast it's shadow. Our ethos of 'living in the moment' can take you on an adventurous journey full of rich experiences, so when you're ready, in your minds eye, pack what you need and give it a test drive! Being mindful (awareness of the now) possesses such a powerful freedom that we found you can laugh that bit louder, relax that little deeper and reflect in a clearer way. It's an art form that requires practice though my friends, starting with being aware of your surroundings; the noises around you, the colours you can see, what shapes are forming, how do you feel physically, what emotions are flowing through you right now and where in your body are they? This can sound rather 'hippy-esque' yet who doesn't like relaxation? It's yours to do with what you wish!

I feel I digress slightly as I wanted to update you on the past week. It's dark. The world as I know it has a sense of devastation; my girl, my partner in crime, has gone from the physical world and while I chat frequently with her I miss her in an indescribable way. I chat with Vicky frequently, like some crazy man, and I find a sense of peace in the connection I feel as though she is listening beside me. Yet through this devastation I must begin to look at the debris and form plans, if not lay the bricks right now, as to what I can use to build the foundations of this new chapter upon. I have poured through thousands of photographs over the past few days and one thing is for sure we racked up some amazing memories. What we managed to see, feel, learn, taste, smell, hear and create in our time together is nothing short of remarkable; forgive me if that sounds a little arrogant but we worked hard in achieving as much as possible!

The past week has been full of organising Vicky's memorial service with her family, particularly her Mum and Sister. I have grown to care a great deal for Vicky's family and they have very much taken me in as one of their own, for which I am very grateful. I also won't lie, if they hadn't Vicky would be down on them like a ton of bricks but no such measures were necessary! ;) Seeing those you care about struggling with sadness is hard yet we are connected in a level of emotions that many, it seems, can't quite understand; it's certainly a roller coaster where one moment it feels like the hulk will burst out of me in utter rage only to then oscillate to having a chuckle at an Aladdin song being sung or a warm feeling fired by a happy memory of Vicky. Together we are stronger.

I went back home on Monday, me and Toast (Vicky's 'boyses'). I wasn't sure what I was expecting but it was a challenge. The organising for medical equipment to be collected, the attempts at sorting furniture, buying a suit for the service, looking through pictures, writing a tribute for the media and finding words for Vicky's eulogy amongst what feels like a whirlwind of a week. Yet our home, yes Vicky's, mine and Toast's home felt peaceful and warm. I must do all I can to keep it, Vicky is with me I can feel her beside me at times but we created this home together and it's so us!

It's Sunday morning and i'm curled on the sofa at Vicky's family home with Toast and Lolly dogs upside down around me. I'm thinking of the next few days, in particular Tuesday the 29th January at 13:30 which is when Vicky's service will be held. As you know Vicky and those close to her passionately encourage support for the University of Michigan in their research into a cure for Adrenal Cortical Cancer. For those of you that would like to make a gesture in Vicky's memory then we warmly welcome donations to be made on the following link: http://www.imagineit.org.uk/#/acc-sponsorship/4569195532.

Alternatively, floral tributes of any style would be embraced and can be sent to
Watkins & Stafford Funeral Service, Fitzwilliam Street, Peterborough, PE1 2RX.

At a time such as this people often want to 'do' something so I thought it best to put this out there for those 'do-ers'!

I am so proud of the life you created Vicky and the amazing legacy you have achieved so far. This is only the beginning.

In the coming weeks I will be drawing together our adventures from late last year including our time in Rome and Christmas 2012.

Live passionately,
Fynn x

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Lost in body but forever beside us in spirit

On the 16th January 2013 at 16.15 Vicky finally lost her brave battle. She went peacefully, surrounded by her family. She was strong right up to the end and is now finally free. She was a beloved wife, daughter, sister and friend and will be greatly missed. She was an inspiration to us all by embracing the ' Imagine it ' ethos, of living for every moment. May she forever rest peacefully among the poppy fields.

As you all know one of Vicky's passions is to raise awareness of ACC so others don't have to walk the path she so valiantly undertook. As one of the driving forces behind Imagine It (www.imagineit.org.uk) it seems fitting that we continue to do this through regular events and challenges with all funds raised going to the University of Michigan's ACC research project. Among social events, half marathons, and 'insane terrain' runs a team of 22 of us are taking on the 3 peaks in 24 hours challenge in August. Watch this space as with Vicky's spirit around us we can truly conquer this disease with greater awareness and funds for the ACC research project. Together we can be an unstoppable force.

Secondly, Vicky learned to love life despite the barrage of emotional and physical challenges therefore it is only fitting that we continue the story of the journey that Vicky and her body took. There is still plenty to tell and while we may lack the creative finesse with the written word that Vicky so clearly demonstrated, as with all that Vicky put her mind to there is a memorable story to come. Watch this space.

In the meantime take heart and inspiration from the rare spirit that Vicky held and go live your life passionately, don't sweat the small stuff, hug those that are close and learn to laugh out loud!

We love you unconditionally Vicky and thank you for the many memories and lessons you have taught us. A true super star.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Poppy Copperfield Saga

We have a turn of phrase in our family we refer to as " David Copperfield-ing" basically it means to give a novel of an answer to something that could be answered quite quickly but here I feel that tactic necessary. Firstly, because so much has happened I wouldn't be giving the subjects fair coverage and second if you really are to follow my life with cancer I can't just skip some crucial facts.

I want to start with the car crashes we witnessed. There we actually two, one on the A47 and on the A11. Both times we were are the forefront and both times a driver dyed. I am not squeamish and I made the 999 calls which is a first. At the time I was calm collected and did what I had to do but it did made me think about life and death in a very different way. These people quite literally didn't see it coming, their whole world imploded. There are definitely days when I could argue this is is better way to go; short and sharp. But really that would depend on how you live your live: your thoughts?

The reason we were on the A11 is because we were on our second consecutive day down go  Addenbrookes as I had agreed to start a new regime of IV Chemo on top of all the hormone control drugs. This on shouldn't make me so sick but I' m not sure if that's really the case. With so many different symptoms  how am I suppose to tell what is causing what?

The cushings causes weakness, fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure, low potassium blurred eyesight....(I have had to get glasses)
The drugs cause dry mouth, water retention, cracked skin, fatigue, liver problems.....
The IV chemo causes fatigue(again!), loss of taste and appetite, oh and nausea......

Anyway everything was going alright, just very hectic, back and forward from Addenbrookes at least once a week for blood series which take all day, little events like visiting family and friends right up to a big family party a rented barn with both mine and my husbands immediate family! Of course that isn't counting that our wedding anniversary and my birthday were bang in the middle of all this! The anniversary we kept quiet with a trip to the zoo, and of course knowing that Rome would be the real prize but for my birthday we had a big lunch out with my parents and friend, presents and a lovely manicure and massage from my sister in law.

The thing is in the end despite not any of this activity being bad in fact I was being throughly spoilt my body just couldn't keep up and I was being to struggle when I came down with the same cold and caught that others had but couldn't shift it.

Howeverw I was there with Fynn for his final marathon for which we and the team raised over three hundred pounds specifically for ACC research. Something we will be continuing with new challenges and projects through Imagine It - if you are not aware of the organisation please look it up on www.imagineit.org.uk
We will also be forming a street time to donate time to volunteer with local fundraising project to raise awareness.

But then came the dreaded infection. With so many symptoms a cold could be a cold or in my case it could put you in a&e in a fairly serious way; in fact within hours! Oxygen, fluids, antibiotics and blood clot scares; plus hospitals don't actually communicate made for a less than fun 48 hours.

Not in a good way,,Fynn took this under protest when I insisted.
We had planed so much in coming weeks I couldn't stand for it all to whipped away like this! Forty eight hours made all the difference though and I escaped grasping antibiotics hoping that our plans would go ahead. I had one week to get in a fit state for Rome, our wedding anniversary present for each other. Many kind people had made enormously generous donations for us to make this trip and notably to achieve some of the targets on our Bucket List!

To be continued in Rome.....