‘I’ve man­aged to move for­ward from grief’

Woman & Home - - In Our Experience -

In­stead of crum­bling, I went into lioness mode

Kirsty Et­trick, 46, is the founder of the Lon­don Med­i­cal concierge. she lives in Bed­ford­shire with her chil­dren, Lewis, 21, Grace, 10, cameron, eight, and Lizzie, six.

My life changed one satur­day in June 2014. We were in the mid­dle of our son Cameron’s fourth birth­day party when one of our friends – also the fam­ily GP – asked, “Have you no­ticed any­thing wrong with Neil lately?” With three kids and a breast­feed­ing baby, I was barely notic­ing my hus­band Neil, but my friend said, “He’s look­ing quite jaun­diced,” and as I looked I saw she was right. she said, “you need to get that checked out… im­me­di­ately.”

so we went straight to a&E. they ran blood tests – and the re­sults showed ab­nor­mal­i­ties. two days later they’d found a tu­mour on his pan­creas. We were in shock. We lis­tened as they talked about the op­er­a­tion he needed – we were told he’d be put on the wait­ing list. back home I spent all day look­ing after the chil­dren, but in the evenings I sat re­search­ing Neil’s symp­toms. It’s hard to de­scribe the des­per­a­tion I felt when ev­ery­thing I read said “life ex­pectancy: six months”. but in­stead of crum­bling, I went into lioness mode. I sim­ply could not al­low this to hap­pen.

as the weeks went by, I be­came in­creas­ingly con­cerned about my re­search ver­sus what was hap­pen­ing in his treat­ment. I love the NHs, and the staff work so hard, but the wheels turn so slowly and when time is of the essence, that’s not oK.

When the NHs con­sul­tants and sur­geon were too busy to talk to us, I got time with them by book­ing ap­point­ments via the lo­cal pri­vate hospi­tal. When they ad­vised that he be treated at ad­den­brooke’s Hospi­tal but there were long wait­ing times, we turned up day after day un­til a slot for emer­gency trans­plants opened up, which it did.

the op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess. they’d got the tu­mour out and we were told that Neil should wait to see an on­col­o­gist. How­ever, he was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and six weeks down the line, the lack of ur­gency seemed at odds with his con­di­tion. so I started re­search­ing doc­tors who had dealt with Neil’s tu­mour. I found Justin steb­bing in lon­don. He did a full body scan and it looked like a map of the uni­verse; the can­cer like stars pep­per­ing his body. Neil went through chemo but his body couldn’t take it, and he died on 8 Novem­ber.

His death shook me to my core. there was a sense of fail­ure that I hadn’t been able to get him what he needed in time. I let my­self sink into a fog.

but our beau­ti­ful chil­dren needed me, and bring­ing my­self back to the now re­ally helped. and peo­ple who knew how much work I had done in try­ing to get ac­cess to treat­ment for Neil started ask­ing me for ad­vice. I re­alised there was a need for a ser­vice that could con­nect peo­ple to the ad­vice, pro­fes­sion­als and treat­ment they needed in a stress-free and timely way. It had been too late for Neil, but for oth­ers, the early de­tec­tion and treat­ment my com­pany helps them to ac­cess may save their lives.

We will never stop miss­ing Neil but we con­tinue to live our lives and be happy, as he would have wanted. >>

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