Keeping my promises Shelly’s goal after her husband dies at age 39
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 justgiving.com/ crowdfunding/shelly-jennings.
Shelly wanted to give a special mention to Anna Newman and Claire St Francis who have helped her.
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Shelly Lewis with children Phoebe and Joe. Inset, Shelly’s husband Mark