Nancy was one of the most inspirational ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, this is the story of her fight, her legacy, and how she helped to fix my broken spirit.
I’m telling her story because sadly, she lost her battle with cancer three years ago, aged 29. I met nancy through her husband, we work in the same place, they were new to the island and I liked to chat, so naturally, I would chat, wether she liked it or not. She used to push her two little girls round in a double buggy, Poppy, 4, Brianna, 2 and little baby Rosie was soon to make an appearance.
I have to be honest, I didn’t have a nice childhood, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t left with some emotional scars, happy families? They didn’t exist in my head, so when I met the Elvins, I was quite taken back, by what a lovely family they were.
Unfortunately that lovely family were set to be shaken to the core. Nancy had been unwell throughout her pregnancy with rosie and had had quite a difficult birth. She struggled on with breast feeding rosie, she was very unwell, and continued caring for poppy and Brianna. Even though she was struggling, never did you hear her complain. Nancy just kept going until 12 weeks after Rosie’s birth when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Nancy had surgery almost immediately to remove the cancer, followed by chemotherapy, followed by more major surgery. I would go round to the house a couple of times a week to help with the girls and do what ever they needed to ease the workload, the more I went, the more I grew to adore her amazing children. They knew mummy was poorly, and she had a yucky tummy, before one of her surgeries, Chris and Nancy told the older girls that mummy was having her yucky tummy fixed, to which they replied ” can you put the yucky baby back in? Meaning little Rosie.
One of the things that amazed me about Nancy was her ability to “just carry on as normal” there was nothing more important to her than being a mum, she kept the girls routine just as it was, organised their birthday parties,baked their birthday cakes and still continued to play a huge part in her church. Nancy was a devout Christian, and even though we weren’t in the same spiritual place we would talk about our views, she amazed me, even though she was fighting this awful disease, her faith never faltered, she was so strong. Finally there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the cancer was as good as gone and all was well, or so we thought.
January 2011 was when nancy found out that her cancer has spread to her lungs and was inoperable. That day nancy carried on, insisting on keeping the girls routine in place and taking Brianna to her swimming lesson. I was astounded, after that awful news she continued to smile, and carry on as normal, it was then that I realised just how incredible this lady actually is. I began to see things differently, even after her prognosis she still continued to be an amazing wife and mother, and she made me see, happiness is what you make it, we can’t help the hand we’re dealt, but we can help how we deal with it. My help was needed more than ever so my visits to the Elvin house became more frequent, I have an incredibly supportive fiancé , but no children yet, so I had the time to help, their need was greater than mine at that time. The more time I spent with them I realised happy families are about so much more than I thought, it’s about taking the rough with the smooth, learning from each other, having a fight and making up but most importantly, sticking together when times are tough. Despite her prognosis nancy was strong throughout, she never allowed herself to think she was dying, she continued as normal, school run, caring for baby Rosie, looking after the house and making tea. She very rarely accepted help, the church were eager to help, but nancy wanted to do as much as she could by herself. To look at nancy, you’d have never known she was sick, sometimes I’d even think, “they must have got it wrong”.
We’re now in June 2011, nancy was taken to hospital as her arm was making in voluntary movements, we feared the worst, the cancer had spread more and there was now a secondary tumour in the brain. Chris and Nancy headed to Liverpool for surgery and I stayed in their house caring for their girls for a couple of days. Nancy knew inside that this wasn’t good, but she continued to smile and carry on as normal as she could. My last good memories of nancy and I, outside her house sweeping leaves up whilst the girls played, unaware of what was happening, it was simple and peaceful.
Three weeks later, halfway through August, Sadly, Nancy lost her fight with cancer. I was so sad to have lost a friend, but so incredibly proud to be able to call her that, nancy taught me so much and showed me the most incredible strength, I’m proud to have known such an amazing person.
Throughout the next few years I continued to help Chris with the girls, I felt truly blessed to be part of their lives, I guess you could say I was a surrogate auntie. Before Nancy died I had nominated her and her family to a charity called “Remember Me”, a local charity, who granted wishes for terminally ill parents to make memories with their children, she wanted to take her girls to Disneyland Paris. Sadly nancy died before she could go, but the charity honoured the wish and they still got to go, I went too, and we met another friend in Paris, it was a special and very bittersweet trip. The part that nancy wanted the most, was for Poppy to have her birthday tea with the princesses, so we did. Poppy, Brianna, Rosie, Chris, Janna and myself celebrated Poppy’s 6th birthday with Sleeping beauty and Cinderella, We told her that this was something mummy had organised.
The girls have so much of their mummy in them, Poppy and Rosie are determined characters, who know what they want and Brianna has the kindest heart and soul. Throughout all this Chris has been an amazing father, despite his grief and sadness he’s continued to nurture them, focus them academically and shower them with love, he’s the epitome of a good daddy.
This story has come full circle and has a happy ending, Chris has met someone and I couldn’t have chosen anyone more perfect for him. We’re still close friends, and I see them all regularly.
Nancy taught me so much, she showed me that no matter what life throws at you, you can deal with it, stay strong and have faith.