I wanted to cre­ate some­thing pos­i­tive in mem­ory of John

After her hus­band of 26 years died from a brain tu­mour, Laura King de­cided to cre­ate a long-last­ing legacy in his name

Woman & Home - - Editor's Letter -

A trib­ute to a hus­band who died from a brain tu­mour

Laura King, 58, owns King’s Fine Food, the uK’s big­gest sup­plier of caviar. she lives in wal­ton-onThames with her 23-year old daugh­ter, Holly, and 18-year old son, Harry, and has a grown-up step­daugh­ter, gemma, and step­son, gareth, from John’s first mar­riage. Her hus­band, the chef John King, was 65 when he died of a brain tu­mour last novem­ber. Through­out his ill­ness, John was treated at the atkin­son Mor­ley wing of st ge­orge’s Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, and Laura has since founded the John King Brain Tu­mour Foun­da­tion to raise money for re­search, equip­ment and a beau­ti­ful gar­den for pa­tients.

John was a re­ally big char­ac­ter: tall, funny, warm, gen­er­ous, kind – and very at­trac­tive. i know it’s a cliché but he was my rock. we had to re­mort­gage to start the busi­ness, but John sup­ported me ab­so­lutely. He was an ex­cep­tional man.

John was very fit, a keen golfer and ran the marathon a few years ago. But then he started miss­ing his step. one day after a golf tour­na­ment with friends, i got a call to say he’d fallen and been taken to hos­pi­tal. As i ar­rived, he was rushed to the re­sus­ci­ta­tion unit after two seizures and put on a life support ma­chine.

it took doc­tors a cou­ple of days to work out what was go­ing on. tim Jones, the lead sur­geon, told us he was 99.9% sure that John had a glioblas­toma brain tu­mour. i re­mem­ber him say­ing, “with tu­mours like this, the av­er­age life ex­pectancy is 15 months.”

i didn’t fall to pieces be­cause, where there’s life, there’s hope. John was al­ways very pos­i­tive. we put all our trust in tim and had ab­so­lute faith in him.

we aren’t par­tic­u­larly re­li­gious but when we knew John was go­ing to die, we went to see our vicar. i didn’t want some­one who didn’t know us do­ing John’s fu­neral. the vicar said, “you can’t cheat death; we are all go­ing to die. what you have is a bless­ing – time to­gether to en­joy.” And that was how we viewed it.

John had an op­er­a­tion to re­move the tu­mour, and the day after surgery, he cooked break­fast for 12 of our son’s friends. we only once sat at the end of the gar­den and cried. we were talk­ing about the chil­dren, that he wouldn’t see his grand­chil­dren; that’s when it hit home.

At Atkin­son Mor­ley, a gar­den cre­ated by for­mer neu­ro­sur­geon Henry Marsh had be­come ne­glected. it’s a small thing, but hav­ing a gar­den to go to as respite from a ward makes a huge dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives. we spent two week­ends plant­ing and paint­ing the chairs.

we’d de­cided as a fam­ily that when things got re­ally bad, John would move to a hos­pice. But one night he had an­other seizure at home; medics tried to re­sus­ci­tate him, but couldn’t.

what helps is keep­ing busy. i also want to make a dif­fer­ence, which is why i started the Foun­da­tion. Brain tu­mours are an un­der­funded can­cer, partly be­cause the prog­no­sis is so bad, but if we don’t put money into re­search, we will never achieve progress. the Foun­da­tion is a re­ally pos­i­tive legacy for John. johnk­ing­brain­tu­mour­foun­da­tion.co.uk

John finds so­lace in his and Laura’s beau­ti­ful gar­den

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