"I'm supporting the Barts legacy"

05 Feb 2020

Luke was cared for at St Bartholomew’s Hospital following a lung cancer diagnosis, but sadly died in November.

His family are now supporting the hospital and here, Emma shares her memories of their time at the hospital and why she is taking on this year’s Vitality Big Half Marathon…

"I was honoured to spend the last decade as Luke's close friend and most of the last five years as his partner and sidekick. Luke was transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in October after having been diagnosed with lung cancer. He was in the Fairley Ward 5a - Dr Fairley had been treating Luke’s mum Jenifer with her Leukaemia in the 70s. Luke was so proud of the connection, I can still see him smiling as he pointed at the tributary sign just outside the double doors.

Visiting was so easy, we could come anytime to spend time with him, play trivial pursuit, eat crisps and laugh as he described the whole hospital menu to us, as he had sampled the full works. He was a breath of fresh air in there, he loved interacting with the staff and giving us a commentary of the quotidian. He dispensed advice to us whilst he was going through so much. He was a true superstar. I continue to burst with pride when I think about him.

He was lucky to be in bed 7 - the one by the gorgeous window - looking out over London at such a height, watching the lights flicker from on to off as workers left their offices in the adjacent skyscrapers, and then back on as the cleaners came in. There was a crack in the window and that was where he put the swan cushion to make it look like it was floating on the glisten of the Grand Union canal, where he had lived on his boat Jenifer. We wondered if Benedict Cumberbatch would fall past our window like he did off this building in Sherlock.

It was terrifying when Luke was transferred to the ICU on the sixth floor. We said our goodbyes that Monday near the end of October. His lung had collapsed and he was to have a very risky procedure to inflate them while avoiding the blood clots in there. Doctor Lim smashed it and did an amazing job - we were so so grateful. We then listened to Breathe by the Prodigy - I cannot even comprehend how awful that would have been to not be able to do so. But he was so funny and so strong. The eternal joker.

I am so grateful to the NHS and Barts Hospital - the care, the lovely staff, the facilities and the intuition. Luke also enjoyed the hot chocolate.

On his third week of the first round of chemotherapy, Luke went into hospital in Farnborough and was waiting for a bed to become available again at Barts. Completely unrelated to the cancer, Luke suffered a stroke on Sunday 24th November and they kept him on life support until the following day for us to say our goodbyes. He looked so beautiful, it was heartbreaking. The day before we had had a wonderful natter on the phone - we talked about snails, Darwin, tupperware and swans. He signed off our last ever conversation with ‘Got to go Barnes! The hot chocolate is here. I’ll see you Monday’.

Last year I ran the same half marathon, and Luke had stayed up almost all night putting together a playlist for me to gallop to. This year I will run to raise money for St Bartholomew’s Hospital to help continue the support they give to cancer patients. I will be running this on Sunday 1st March, it will be hard not to have him at the finish line with prosecco this year but I will think of him so much whilst I listen to his amazing sonic selection, and participate to help the Barts legacy that we never know when our closest loved ones will need.”

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