This week I lost a truly lovely friend. The picture above just sums her up for me - that glorious smile. It says everything about her. She was a person who made me feel welcome in her heart the minute I met her. She was a breath of fresh air in a world where a lot of people seem to have an agenda – Gaynor didn't. She was just as transparent as glass. And brought in as much light. A beam of sunlight. For me anyway.
We met not that long ago for lunch. What happened? It is so surreal that she has died. I can't quite get my head round it. Shock? Denial?
Gaynor had a recurrence. Ovarian
bloody cancer. Of course. They tried everything – different types of chemo, different diet etc. A horrible regime that never seemed to end. And was constantly painful. Horribly painful. But they did their best. And Gaynor fought like a tiger!
But it wasn't enough! Not through their lack of trying, but through lack of knowledge of WHY this disease comes back so viciously. We so desperately need more research into ovarian cancer.
Hence I am doing the Kenya cycle - not for me. For my friends, here and gone. To support those still battling, and to honour those we have lost.
It was amazing to see her strength in the face of it. She didn't complain, she didn't whine. She got on with her life as much as she could – driving her girls to swimming, going to work – usually exhausted, but always positive…here she is with us. We had a lovely day – full of happiness. And teal balloons!
Gaynor was a tiny person – same height as me, but slim as a willow. And bubbling with life – she never stopped! But the cancer simply ate her alive. It moved to her bowel and caused ascites. Ascites is horrific and very distressing. She was constantly having it drained as it was crushing the rest of her organs. The process was unpleasant, but she cracked on with it, texting and calling in the midst of what must have been a very uncomfortable experience.
She had serious guts. She was very, very brave.
She leaves three daughters, and of course her husband – all of whom she was so proud. She was always reporting on their achievements, large or small. I keep thinking of them all. And what their day must have been like when Gaynor died. I was shocked and tearful all day and achieved nothing sensible. How did they manage?
She died peacefully and painlessly in her sleep. I was so relieved to hear that from Andy, her lovely husband. They must have felt as if it was all a nightmare – perhaps hoping they'd wake up and it would all have gone away. Would that it had.
Gaynor. My dear friend. I miss you so much already. Your brave and intelligent attack on your illness. Your funny, witty remarks and stories - your calls...your advice. Your support of me. The energetic, non-stop way you lived life. Your fighting spirit. Your amazing shoes :) About which we had an ongoing and hilarious discussion.