"I'm older than I care to say and have been married to Ian for over 25 years. We've been blessed with two beautiful daughters: Megan and Rebecca. Having moved several times as part of my husband's work, we settled for 10 years in the Middle East where both our girls went to secondary school. I did nurse training although left the profession many years ago to pursue my love of horses and scuba diving (though not at the same time!)
I've experienced many things and life has been exciting, colourful and diverse! However, there has been nothing that compares to being a mum! It has, and continues to be, my greatest joy and privilege to walk alongside my family with love, hugs and laughter - supporting their hopes and dreams - fulfilling my own!
However the path we tread is sometimes not of our choosing. It can be fraught with anguish and pain. Our daughter, Megan, was diagnosed with cancer and tragically died after a courageous battle in 2010.
To experience the nightmare of losing one`s child is unthinkable. The devastation, complete! Grief, as depicted in drama on television, can never convey the reality. There is no end. It doesn't go away at the flick of a switch. It is overwhelming, complex and personal, impacting on all who have loved and live with the loss, striking fear into those who have never walked this path (and I hope never will!)
Megan was 20 when diagnosed. It was aggressive and unresponsive to treatment. She was ill for 16 months. Throughout her battle she had an energy and drive that supported her absolute need to retain her identity and not 'get lost' in the rigors everything having cancer entails! Rebecca, (Meg's sister) and Ian (her dad) were a driving force in helping her maintain this approach and my own life experiences enabled me to guide her.
Over many months we had many conversations relating to this attitude, of not "getting lost" in cancer, and I was aware that she'd started to produce her own information which she believed, as a cancer patient, would benefit others.
I would often remind Megan that her name was not cancer, and that phrase was adopted by Meg when she needed that extra bit of emotional strength to face her journey. She felt empowered saying "my name is not cancer" and the simplicity of those five words encouraged her to be her own person, not a victim of cancer. They gave Meg self-belief and courage probably at the times she felt most vulnerable.
Megan's personal experience gave her deep wisdom, understanding and insight as to the emotions of being diagnosed, the fight to survive, and ultimately, an approach to facing limited life.
Throughout, she gifted all who knew her a wonderful smile and positivity maintained to the end, which helped her approach death, her way!
It was several months later that I fully discovered her work and research:
There are vast amounts of information relating to different cancers, chemotherapy, radiotherapy etc, and chat rooms and organisations to talk about 'all things cancer', however Megan identified there wasn't a guide as to how "to be” that wasn't linked to religion and completely neutral in ideals!
Having nothing to relate to in this way led to deep loneliness. It wasn't that Megan needed to talk to someone in the same situation. She understood that was probably not very helpful. She was just looking for a way to still feel in control in a situation that made her feel out of control. She wanted ways to take herself back from cancer and the impact it had on her life!
I realised Megan had dedicated valuable time and energy during what was to be the remainder of her life, trying to produce something that would fill the gap she'd experienced, giving positivity and empowerment to any person - regardless of age, gender, belief or prognosis - and is remarkable and fills me with immense pride.
Initially, I decided to produce some of Megan's work as she had intended and share this information with as many people facing diagnosis or coping with cancer! The leaflet Megan wrote is called My Name is NOT Cancer® and includes her original work and introduction.
The purpose of this leadlet is to offer a different focus (that's not all about cancer) and to encourage any individual whether newly diagnosed, treated, recovered or life limited, to understand cancer does not define them, it is not their identity: You are still YOU!
Whilst working on the leaflet, I felt compelled to find another way to bring her approach to those that need it. A website would allowed this.
I decided to invite anyone with experience of cancer to submit their own coping techniques: on diagnosis, different investigations, getting through side effects of various treatment, emotions. The result is a comprehensive resource based on real life experiences and Coping with Cancer is that information.
Megan was supported by several wonderful cancer organisations: The Y.O.U at Manchester Christie Hospital; Macmillan Cancer Support; CLIC Sargent; Nightingale House Hospice and Wrexham Maelor Hospital to name but a few and I apologise if any organisation has been left out as there were so many involved in her care. This amazing support made me feel limited as to what I could do to help, not only with the crucial support and vital work of those mentioned, but for ALL established cancer charities and organisations.
After much research it became apparent that I wouldn't be able to do this by becoming another charity! As cancer charities are dependent on the generosity of public donation and support through fundraising, I would not wish to deflect those funds from where they are so desperately needed in order to support MNINC! Through remaining independent, I felt MNINC could endorse the essence of any cancer charity or organisation by raising their profiles through a feature focus and inviting them to become Partners.
MNINC is to encourage the fundraising undertaken by the general public to help cancer causes and through this our aims and business philosophy were born. This was not to be just another cancer site!
MNINC gives me the opportunity to share ways we can help each other, to feel part of a community in a world that is blighted by isolation. Those wonderful people that have contributed to the information within this website are truly heroic and I sincerely thank everyone for the courage and compassion shown to others in similar situations, by sharing yourselves through your experiences.
I sincerely hope, whatever your individual pathway, you will be empowered by the MNINC Publication and website, and find inner strength and courage to face whatever challenges you encounter.
Megan's greatest fear was that if anything happened, she would be forgotten...
With my family's support, My Name Is NOT Cancer comes from her, through me, for you!"