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Dan & Wendy

Wendy passed away from pancreatic cancer when she was 54 years old. Dan shares their experiences of this difficult time, and reflects on the special memories that they will cherish.


Nanna’s diagnosis

My Nanna, Wendy, was diagnosed in August 2019 with pancreatic cancer. At first, she was in hospital with suspected gallbladder problems but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It was so frustrating because for many years she’d been back and forth to the doctors with back pain and heart burn. But they would just send her on her way without a care in the world always putting it down to her work or her lifestyle. She was a chamber maid at a hotel, and she worked there up until she was in hospital.

Her health quickly declined

I was just so worried about her, but I tried to not think the worst, but little did I know something insidious and cruel was around the corner. When she first got diagnosed, I just couldn’t stop crying. I’m a big believer in God so I was praying and praying for her health. I’d say I lost my faith the day she died.

I went to visit her when she came home which was early September, but her health quickly declined, and she was eventually bedridden. Her daughters had to help her get dressed and washed and made sure she’d eat. It was heart wrenching to watch a beloved mother/grandmother, very hard working and very strong willed quickly decline. My Nan didn’t like it when we cried so we all held the tears back, but my heart was aching in pain just wishing this was a bad nightmare.

Nanna’s passing

She passed away at the age of 54 in the October. I wasn’t with her when she passed in her bed surrounded by her husband, son and daughters, so I didn’t get to stay goodbye. But I remember the last time I visited her she was extremely tired, drowsy and weak. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her I loved her. I made sure that was my last word every time I visited. She’d never say it back, but she’d have a smile on her face.

My Nan was a very proud woman. She was so young and full of life, and I was robbed of making precious memories with her. I’ve developed as a person myself being trans and the fact that she isn’t here with me is heartbreaking. Life is so unfair. A young and fit healthy woman who was the life and soul of the party, loved ABBA and Billy Ocean, and loved to travel the world, just gone like that. I still can’t come to terms with it. The one thing I will say about my Nan she braved death but to think how she was feeling is just unimaginable.

Memories I will cherish

She planned her funeral and had a lovely white wicker basket for a coffin, and she had the songs ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Never Enough’. She loved ‘The Greatest Showman’. Our common interests were watching ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ordering an Indian takeaway. We would critique every contestant and give them our scores. We really should have been on Gogglebox. These are the memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. She did everything for her family. She had a hard life herself growing up, but she bettered her life and everything she built and achieved she did through hard work. My Nan was the strongest woman I ever knew. She took me in when I was homeless and put me on the right path. I’ll forever be grateful for her love and kindness.

Trying to cope with the grief

I hope by sharing my story it resonates with those affected and who struggle with grief. I’ve kept it in for so many years and it delays the grieving process.  It never gets easier – everyday without my Nan my heart aches but talking about it does help me cope.

I fully support the Demand Survival Now campaign. More needs to be done. What I’d give to have had more time with my Nanna, to tell her how much I loved and respected her. I’ve now realised time is so precious. If only the doctors took her health seriously maybe she would have had more time so that’s why more needs to be done. I’ll continue to share my story to help others and use my voice to speak for my Nanna to raise awareness and to help those grieving. I understand your pain, I understand your hurt and I’m with you and I’m hopeful that maybe one day this insidious disease can be defeated once and for all.