Keep­ing my prom­ises Shelly’s goal af­ter her hus­band dies at age 39

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - [email protected]­ Melissa JONES

AMUM-OF-TWO is de­ter­mined to make the best of life de­spite be­ing dealt a se­ries of shat­ter­ing blows along the way.

Shelly Lewis lost her hus­band Mark, 39, on Septem­ber 25 last year, just 10 weeks af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with cancer.

The tragedy came al­most a year to the day af­ter her mum Enda, 61, passed away from sep­sis in 2017.

In the fol­low­ing few months she lost her aun­tie and grand­mother. Both were called Bar­bara and were much-loved by all who knew them.

“What I have been through­has made me live for the mo­ment, I don’t dwell on ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened,” saysshelly.

“The glass is al­ways half full for me. I try to see the pos­i­tive side.

“You don’t know what is around the cor­ner. I do what makes me happy. “Life is so del­i­cate and pre­cious.” Shelly met Mark over Face­book in Novem­ber 2008.

When they were teenagers, they had the same group of friends who used to meet by the lo­cal burger van, but they had never met.

One of them, Jane Prosser, sug­gested to Shelly they might be a match.

“We started chat­ting on­line and de­cided to meet for a drink,” she re­called fondly.

“Our first date was on Novem­ber 21, 2008. We went to the Hun­gry Horse pub at Seven Springs.

“He had one of those puffy jack­ets on and used to wear gold. I thought let’s not judge a book by a cover.

“Af­ter a few games of pool I thought he was al­right.” Shar­ing the same sense

of hu­mour, they put their dif­fer­ences to one side and got on ex­tremely well.

They had both come out of longterm re­la­tion­ships and for Shelly, who had ex­pe­ri­enced so much at the age of just 28, she was upfront about want­ing chil­dren.

“I had been mar­ried be­fore for five years,” she said.

“We were dif­fer­ent peo­ple in the end. “When I was a teenager I had a boyfriend who was killed in a road traf­fic collision. Some years later I was en­gaged to some­one who died very suddenly at the age of 28. “Me and Mark wanted the same things. We both had a lot of life ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We lived in this happy bub­ble. And two months in I was preg­nant with my son Joe.”

Born five weeks early weigh­ing just 4lb 8oz, it was a chal­leng­ing time for the cou­ple, who lived to­gether in Chel­tenham.

Lit­tle Joe bat­tled jaun­dice, as Mark took pride in do­ing the night feeds.

When he was old enough, the pair would en­joy fish­ing trips to­gether.

Joe talks fondly about his dad and how they would bat­tle for the big­gest catch.

“Ev­ery­thing we did was for the chil­dren,” said Shelly, also mum to Phoebe, five.

But when Shelly was preg­nant with Phoebe, Mark be­gan hav­ing back prob­lems.

He was di­ag­nosed with crum­bling discs and had to have a nerve blocker, in be­tween Shelly’s mum’s fu­neral and the death of her grand­mother.

In March last year, an­other nig­gle flared up, this time with his arm.

“He thought it was re­lated to his back again,” she con­tin­ued.

“Then in April his voice went a bit strange. I had a sore throat and thought he had it too.

“It could have been a bad case of laryn­gi­tis. We had var­i­ous ap­point­ments but it didn’t go away.

“One evening in June the pain he had in his arm was so bad I had to call an am­bu­lance.”

Mark’s throat prob­lems were probed fur­ther in July, when he had a cam­era look at his voice­box.

He was told he may have a paral­ysed vo­cal chord and a biopsy would be taken.

“I re­mem­ber com­ing home the one day af­ter pick­ing the kids up from school and he had a se­ri­ous look on his face,” said Shelly.

“The doc­tor had phoned to say they had found a shadow. I said they think it’s cancer.”

Re­sults con­firmed the cou­ple’s worst fears - that he had a tu­mour. Worse still, it was wrapped around his tra­chea and squeez­ing on the vo­cal chords.

“Suddenly ev­ery­thing was linked and it was very se­ri­ous,” said­shelly.

The biopsy re­sults found it was an ag­gres­sive form of the dis­ease that could quickly take hold.

With the help of friends, the or­gan­ised their wedding for Au­gust 7.

Shelly was gifted her dress by In­fin­ity Dresses and the cake by Sugar Bowl Bakes, while wedding pho­tog­ra­pher Nikki Kirk of­fered her ser­vices.

Five treat­ments of ra­dio­ther­apy ended be­fore the day be­fore the cer­e­mony.

Will­ing to try ev­ery­thing to give him longer with his fam­ily, the cou­ple opted for im­munother­apy, which helps your im­mune sys­tem fight cancer.

Un­for­tu­nately for Mark, it had an ad­verse ef­fect on his liver. He spent time with friends on Septem­ber 22 but tragically died three days later.

“We weren’t able to do a bucket list but he told me not to give up and do ev­ery­thing I wanted to,” she said.

“I would love to take the kids to Dis­ney­land. Un­for­tu­nately we didn’t have time to do it to­gether.

“I want to make sure they have a proper child­hood. I promised Mark I would do ev­ery­thing for them and I in­tend to ful­fil his fi­nal wishes.”

Friends have set-up a Justgiv­ing page for Shelly, to add to £400 she has saved from work­ing at a cafe for the trip to Dis­ney­land.

It can be found at justgiv­ crowd­fund­ing/shelly-jen­nings.

Shelly wanted to give a spe­cial men­tion to Anna Newman and Claire St Fran­cis who have helped her.

» Join the de­bate and stay up to date by fol­low­ing us on Face­book @Gloslive on­line

Pic­ture: Mikal Lud­low

Shelly Lewis with chil­dren Phoebe and Joe. In­set, Shelly’s hus­band Mark

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