Making The Happiest Of Memories In Our Last Weeks. By Gemma


I just about managed to persuade Matt to let me write this blog. He read my first draft and told me that some of it needed a bit of work…cheeky! But here goes and I want to share with you our last weeks together. I know Matt would have wanted his story to be complete.

So those of you that have been following Matts blog, you already know that he has been at Myton Hospice in Warwick and we sadly had to say our last goodbye to him on Friday. But we managed to make some amazing memories during Matts stay at the Hospice, which seems strange to say but Matt was able to see the final print of his CD, which he had worked so hard to create. And we fulfilled one of our dreams. Matt did make a little hint at the end of his last blog that we were planning something, but didn’t want to give anything away.

I will start from the beginning, well a few weeks ago. When Matt was referred to Myton Hospice they sent over one of the Hospice doctors to talk about what it would be like and what they could do for Matt. She explained that he should challenge them. If Matt wanted anything all he needed to do was ask…. “even weddings”

Little did we know that some of the amazing nurses of the Mary Ward at Warwick Hospital, who Matt had been sharing our engagement story with had a meeting with the Hospice doctor and suggested that a wedding would be something we would love to do.

And it was…

Rewind a few weeks, to Coventry Hospital just after Matts spinal surgery. We had the pleasure of meeting two amazing Macmillan Nurses who Matt has already named and shamed on a previous blog. They talked to us about different charities we could use to enjoy a day out or a weekend trip away and also a charity who provide weddings for couples like us who didn’t have all the time in the world.

When Matt came home from Coventry Hospital we started to go through the application process and we were so excited that the possibility of getting married was becoming a reality. Which was then suddenly taken away from us when Matt got rushed into hospital and we were given the news we so desperately didn’t want. So to be given that hope again was truly amazing. We were not going to let it go!

After the doctor from Myton Hospice had left (I didn’t know this at the time) Louise, Matt’s Mum was on the phone to the jewellers where Matt had got my engagement ring from asking them how quickly we could get rings sorted.

When Matt told me a wedding could again be a possibility I was over the moon, which seems so strange in this situation, but it brought us hope and a positive focus. When we got engaged over a year ago, we started to plan and write down our perfect wedding and since then we have had our ups and downs and it was something that had to be put aside while we focused on getting Matt better. This new focus meant we had something to look forward to and Matt had something to aim for. It brought a wave of happiness over us and our families.

Since then I have been a woman on a mission and realised that you only need a few days, maybe a week to plan a wedding. Not too sure what brides to be do for months, even years when they are planning a wedding. I have been amazed by the generosity and willingness to help that I came across when I started this challenge. Each and every business I approached listened to my brief and between the tears heard our story of why I needed things done so quickly. They all said “It can be done, don’t worry.


Smashing Wedding fund pots!

I managed to arrange things over the phone or via e-mail as I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Matt. But it wouldn’t be mine and Matts wedding without doing it the hard way, or having to change the way we did it. Because over the past two years, our hardest years, we have realised we haven’t done things the easy way. I guess I should have realised that from the beginning, when we decided to start going out the month Matt was due to start University in Brighton (4 hours away).

On Thursday (the day before our planned wedding) we decided, after discussing with the doctors that we should do the legal marriage that night, so we could have a shorter ceremony the next day, as Matt was getting tired easily. We rounded up our families and had a beautiful ceremony in ‘The Sanctuary’ at Myton Hospice and we became Husband and Wife a day earlier than we expected.


After our engagement we started to save, a proud moment as we counted our £500. Plus a few coppers and foreign coins, I’m still trying to find out who put those in.

The morning of what would have been our wedding celebration, Matt wasn’t doing well and it was clear that Matt had kept fighting so that we could get married. I knew Matt was desperate to see me in my wedding dress. I got changed behind the curtain and revealed myself to him, even though he was so poorly he still found the words to make us laugh. When he saw me, he held his chest and said ‘God, that’s not good for your health.’ It made us all laugh and the look of sheer joy that was on his face, is something I am never ever going to forget. As I was in my dress we exchanged our rings and the Hospice Chaplin blessed the rings.

In Matts eyes we were officially married, he was happy and his life was complete.

Although I didn’t get to use some of the things we arranged I feel it necessary to Thank the brilliant businesses I used…

For my beautiful dress and the beautiful ladies at True Romantica who went out of their way to make my dream dress happen.

To Crystalink Jewellers for getting our rings in time and allowing me to design my own special and symbolic wedding band.

To the florist, Kim at Cresent Florist who not only put up with me and my sister when we were little while my Nanna was choosing flowers, but donated two sunflower arrangements for the sanctuary.

And to Choccywoccydoodah, who created the perfect bespoke cake in just a few days (normally taking 3 months to design, order, make and deliver) The cake is very special to us as Choccy was the one shop in Brighton me and Matt would spend hours looking in the window at the chocolate creations. Every Valentine’s Day or birthday would usually involve a treat from Choccy. When we started planning our wedding over a year ago this was the first thing we both said we wanted.



Our entirely edible chocolate cake with a gondola and sunflowers to represent Venice, where we got engaged.

I was able to design our cake over the phone. I gave my ideas and the elements we wanted included on the cake as they meant a great deal to us. So I am saving the cake for Matts funeral. As we didn’t get to eat it. He definitely wouldn’t want a choccy cake to go to waste.

My last Thank You is to Myton Hospice, who have cared for Matt in his last days and what a job they did, from medical care to organising us saying our vows and for that I am very very grateful.

I know my writing isn’t half as good as Matt’s but I’ve had the honour of writing the final blog and conclusion to Matt’s story, Matt’s fightback.

Thanks for reading x

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Breaking My Silence: The Update I Didn’t Want To Give

Mary ward 2

I’ve always said these blogs would be an honest account of my situation. Whether it be good, bad or ugly, I’ve wanted to give the full story of what my life has been like since I was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer.

And this blog is no different. In fact it tops the lot in terms of difficulty – for both writing and, I imagine, in reading. I hope it’s not too much – but this is the truth.

Most of it ain’t pretty – but try and hang on till the end. Cause there’s a nice little surprise I’ve wanted to share with everyone for a while now, and I think this blog will prove to be the best time to do it!

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Progress – One Little Word That Sums Up My New Life At Home


Wow. What a day. What a few days and what a few weeks it’s been. I’m not sure if I’ve got the energy to finish this blog but it’s now over a week since I’ve been home and I’m desperate to write an update so let’s see how this goes. There’s certainly a hell of a lot to say.

And that’s because life couldn’t be much further away from ‘normal’ right now. Every single day brings a new challenge that neither I nor my family have faced before. But we’re getting by. We’re coping. And more than that, we’re making real progress each and every day.

Yes, it’s tough. But we start each day with a deep breath and a smile, and we end it by telling each other we love each other and that tomorrow will be even better than today. That we’ll make even more progress. We’ll get there, we’ll figure it all out.

And ultimately, we’ll make life count.

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My Moment Of True Happiness In A Most Surprising Place


Happiness. It’s that ultimate feeling we all strive for in life. To wake up in the morning and have no worries about the day ahead. To live in the biggest house in the street, drive the fastest car, or get that promotion at work you know all your colleagues have been fighting over.

For others it could be sacrificing success to start a family, or simply an unachievable light in the distance that seems so far away.

Whatever form it takes, happiness is like that utopia we all strive for. Yet for most of us, we don’t even know where to start – or what it looks like.

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Taking One Step At A Time – My Toughest Blog Yet

Wolf Run 4

It’s exactly two months since my last blog – my longest dry spell since I set the whole thing up and shared it with the world. I do sometimes have stints when I simply can’t be bothered but this break has been different. Too much has happened and the last few weeks especially have been mad.

There’s been a birthday holiday to Barcelona that we had to cancel the night before, a week in Yorkshire that was nearly cancelled but thankfully wasn’t; but more importantly there have been too many stints in hospital, and an MRI scan that showed things have turned seriously for the worse.

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My Wonder Drug Nivolumab Rejected For NHS Use


I try to be quite jovial and jokey about my situation on this blog – and in life – because I don’t really see what I’d gain by acting any other way. And that won’t change. But I want this particular blog to be a serious one, in order to shine the spotlight on a decision made earlier this week that has left me in disbelief.

Not only that, but its consequences could impact on thousands of other kidney cancer patients across the UK, both now and in the future.

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June: A Month To Forget For UK – But Not For Me


June. What a great month it is. The start of Wimbledon, supposedly the start of Summer and this year, the start of the European Championships.

But June 2016? It’s been horrible. The sooner it’s over, the better. The weather’s been atrocious, we’re out of the Euros at the expense of Iceland and the country is in political and economic turmoil post-Brexit. Thank God for the England Rugby team.

However, through all that genuine doom and gloom – and all the fear and worry – I’m hoping to give you just a little ray of light to perk up what is otherwise a pretty gloomy time.

That’s because, for me, June has been better than most.

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Keeping Matt Sane #2: Sport

Britain's Loveliest Ground 2013: A game of cricket at Stoneleigh Abbey.

Sport has always been a massive part of my life. Whether it be lazing in front of the TV watching Match of the Day or enjoying an afternoon out on the golf course or cricket pitch, there isn’t a day that goes by when sport isn’t included in some way. So, almost inevitably, it was to play a part in the process leading up to my diagnosis.

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Hitting The Right Notes Again After Radiotherapy Treatment

Trafford centre guitars

There are a couple of posts on this blog and website that for whatever reason I have really put off writing for days. It might have been bad news or I might not have been feeling particularly well, and it would only be when someone would ask innocently: ‘Have you updated your website yet?’ that I would get down to it and start writing.

Thankfully, this isn’t one of those occasions. Driving home from Manchester yesterday, I couldn’t wait to start typing. Not because we’d had a landmark scan or particularly good news or anything – but because I just felt really, really good.

It’s amazing what can happen in two weeks.

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Ajax To Ajax And How Friends Have Made My Life Easier


It’s hard to know what to write when thinking about my last couple of weeks. So much has happened. Incredible things, mainly, but it has also been tough. Tough because my back issues have now become quite serious, and are starting to impact on how much I can do each day. But incredible because of the kindness and generosity of so many people. And that kindness has meant that, on balance, the positives have greatly outweighed the negatives.

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