Ian’s wife Lisa recovered from breast cancer, but died in 2017 from a neuroendocrine cancer. Since establishing Lisa’s Fund in Memory, Ian and their sons Tom, Harry and Jack have raised more than £5,900 for Breast Cancer Now.

Harry, Tom, Jack, Ian and Lisa in Cyprus in 2016

Lisa was gorgeous, funny and everyone liked her

I first met Lisa in 1983 at school (we were both 13). We first went out together in July 1988, when we went for a drink in my dad’s car and listened to Rhythm of the Rain by the Cascades. We loved it and chattered for ages.

She was gorgeous, funny but a little shy at first. Everyone she met liked her and she was so caring.

A pre-Christmas mastectomy and a New Year’s Eve visit to the oncologist

Lisa first felt a lump in October 2004, the month after our third son, Tom, was born. The GP dismissed it as nothing, but she persevered and was formally diagnosed on 4 December that year.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind and she had a mastectomy before Christmas. You can imagine how hard it was with three boys under the age of six - one just three months old.

New Year’s Eve consisted of a visit to the oncologist for a treatment plan. Lisa was only 34 so she had the lot, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, plus tamoxifen for 10 years and Herceptin (she was one of the first to have Herceptin in the UK).

Lisa was scared but battled it hard, and was given the all-clear after 10 years. I can’t thank enough Mr Ali, Dr Dodwell and all the doctors and nurses who helped.

She was unable to say goodbye to our beautiful boys

In June 2017 following problems with swallowing, ulcers, et cetera, she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer.

She never really started treatment and died four weeks later on Sunday 9 July, unable to say goodbye to our beautiful boys.

Lisa had actually overcome breast cancer before she died

The post-mortem showed she did not have secondaries. So, she had beaten breast cancer – but she never knew it. She actually died of a neuroendocrine cancer established in the appendix. I wish she had known this as she always wanted to beat breast cancer, and she did.

Our boys coped in different ways, but it was so hard

We were in shock when Lisa died. She had such a quick demise, and her last two weeks in hospital were spent in a state of pain that even morphine couldn’t shift.

She was our world, but all my attention was for our boys who coped in different ways, but it was hard, so hard.

We had great support from family, but we withdrew together to support each other.

It was awful and we seriously struggled for a long time. Over time you learn to live with loss, but it never ever gets easier.

We decorate Lisa’s grave at Christmas and raise a toast to her

Lisa loved Christmas; she loved the decorations, the build-up, the food, drink, and most importantly the boys. She loved them so much - they would get everything she could find and more. She lit up the room and wanted everyone to have a wonderful time.

Tom is now in charge of the decorations, he decorates the lounge exactly as he did with his mum and the boys.

We decorate Lisa’s grave with beads, flowers and Christmas items – I hope she likes them. The four of us go to the grave to toast Lisa with champagne on Christmas morning, after presents are opened and before lunch is prepared.

I do the dinner for the four of us, our elderly neighbour Allen (who was an amazing friend to all of us) and anyone else is welcome.

I always pour Lisa a glass of champagne and leave it on the side for her, and raise a toast. I need to stay strong for the boys (now men), but personally it isn’t getting any easier.

We established Lisa’s Fund in Memory to make a difference

We decided to set up a Fund in Memory for Lisa with Breast Cancer Now because we just wanted to make a difference. It’s a personal thing which we open up to friends and family, and it’s so simple to use.

It helped massively to see all the comments about how Lisa enriched the life of many people.
In particular, Lisa’s mum Sue and I find solace in Lisa’s Fund in Memory online pages.

It would be wrong not to recognise Lucy, the daughter of friends of ours, who made bracelets and sold them in Lisa’s honour – she raised £1,400 through this fantastic memento.

Lisa after giving birth to Tom in September 2004, with Harry, Ian and Jack

Lisa would be proud of the money raised in her memory

Me and Sue leave money with Lisa’s Fund in Memory at every anniversary, birth, death, wedding anniversary, Christmas, et cetera.

I also leave all my money from Christmas and my birthday to the fund to try and make a difference – there are many things I wish for, but if we can make a difference to help people with breast cancer, I would do that every day.

So far we’ve raised more than £5,900 through Lisa’s fund. I know she would feel proud of us and she wouldn’t believe she was so loved, but it was so obvious to everyone who knew her.


Start a Fund in Memory for a loved one, or post a dedication to someone you’ve lost on our online Christmas dedication wall.