In 2017, Hayden Davis lost the love of his life, Alison Pink, to breast cancer. During her treatment, Alison was supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre’s specialist breast nurse, Elaine Shaw, who made an incredible difference to Alison. This is Hayden and Alison’s story.
“I have known Allison since I was 14 years of age. We grew up together and back then I thought she was a great looking girl, but she was already going out with one of my friends so she was obviously off limits at that stage. We went our separate ways and in time we came back into each other’s lives about 15 or 20 years later. We had both been through a bit of life experience in that time and we were both divorced with a son each.
“When I first met her again I remember thinking she was still as beautiful as a woman as she was as a girl. She was just an amazing woman: strong, independent and caring. All the things you would choose in your ideal partner and I felt so lucky to have her in my life again.
“Alison went for a routine mammogram and it was then that we discovered that there was a tumour in her left breast. Alison’s treatment was going to start with chemotherapy to shrink the tumour and then she was going to have an operation to remove the breast. It was at her first chemotherapy session that things started to change. Alison’s consultant asked us to come to see him as the results from the C.T. scan were back. It showed that the cancer had spread to her liver and treatment went from curable to treatable with the hope of prolonging her life.”
Elaine shone through
“I think Friends of the Cancer Centre means a different million things to different people. For patients it means something different compared to a partner or a family member who is supporting a loved one. For me, knowing they were there supporting her was a great comfort. Friends of the Cancer Centre fund a specialist nurse called Elaine, who is dedicated to looking after breast cancer patients and she was just amazing with Alison. As much as Alison was a patient, they became friends and that made a really difficult time easier for Alison. The fact that Friends of the Cancer Centre fund this pots – the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland – is just amazing.”
Losing my soul mate
“Alison passed away in my arms Sunday, September 24, 2017 in the Cancer Centre. That night my heart shattered into a million pieces as I’d lost my soul mate, best friend and the love of my life. You hear the word heartbroken throughout your life, but you don’t really realise what it means until something like that happens. You actually do feel like your heart has broken. You just feel lost and there’s nothing as bad as feeling lost with a broken heart. I miss her every day.”
Climbing to be close to her
“Alison’s 50th birthday present was a puppy called Benson. I call him my Earth Angel now, because he’s with me everywhere. I had to take him out walking and I found that I was chatting with Alison along the way. Just like most couples have their time each day to have a chit chat, my walks with Benson felt like my time with Alison. It was a comfort for me. It went from there and I started walking the Mourne Mountains and I has this feeling that the higher I got up, the closer I was to her. So my goal was then to get to the top of Slieve Donard, as it is the highest point in Northern Ireland and another high point to feel closer to her. Then it progressed to Ben Nevis as it was the highest point in the UK. Alison had wanted to raise money for Friends of the Cancer Centre so my sister came up with the idea of taking on Everest Base Camp. At the time I laughed and imagine a few bleep words came out, but it came back to the point of me getting to the highest points I could so I could get closer to her.
“Taking on Everest Base Camp was incredible and after 18 days trekking, 120km and 17,500ft up I reached my goal. I felt as close to heaven as I possibly could and I knew Alison had watched over me the whole way. Thankfully the challenge has raised over £11,000 which is just fantastic and I know Alison would be delighted that the money will support so many people through Friends of the Cancer Centre’s work, just like her.”
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