Last year I dedicated this page to the story of one of my work colleagues who is gearing up for one of the biggest challenges of her life, and as her feat gets ever closer, I have decided to feature her again.
I want to recap Diane Smith’s story, because it is one of the most inspirational I have heard in a while.
Diane works for our sister paper The Chronicle’s advertising team. Back in 2014 she had a lot to celebrate, not least because she had just turned 50.
As well as this, she was also due to celebrate 25 years of marriage to her beloved husband Brian and was desperate to get the all clear from the cancer that had afflicted her life since July 2009.
Back then, Diane’s life had been turned upside down after finding a lump in her breast, and she visited her GP who referred her to the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
Within a time frame of just days, Diane went for a mammogram but so confident was she that it wouldn’t be anything to worry about that she didn’t even tell anyone she had booked the appointment.
But to her horror, tests showed that she had breast cancer and she was required to have a gruelling course of treatment, including six months of intense chemotherapy and a year-long course of herceptin.
From that first appointment, Diane said she was 100% sure that she had breast cancer, that she would need surgery and that she would have to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“I was devastated to say the least and it was at this stage I wished that I had told someone and that I wasn’t on my own,” she said. “It turned out that I had an aggressive Grade 3 cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes, but thankfully nowhere else at that stage.”
Despite having just been told she had cancer, Diane’s biggest worry was how she was going to tell her husband Brian, as well as the rest of her family. And since nobody knew she had even gone to the hospital, she knew this was not going to be an easy task.
However, thanks to the help and support of her family, and staff at Clatterbridge, Diane fought a brave battle and thankfully was given the all clear earlier this year.
Diane had lots to focus on in 2014, including getting ready to celebrate her and Brian’s silver wedding anniversary.
But tragedy struck in June that year when after she and Brian had been out with friends one Friday evening, he collapsed suddenly and had a heart attack, subsequently going into cardiac arrest.
Sadly, although Brian’s friend attempted CPR, he never regained consciousness and passed away two weeks later on June 20, 2014, leaving Diane devastated.
She had been planning a fundraising event to raise money for Clatterbridge as a thank you for them giving her her life back, but Brian’s death knocked her for six and she subsequently forgot all about any plans she had made before.
Over time, work and good friends helped Diane deal with her loss and she is now finally at a stage where she can begin to think about how to support Clatterbridge and also keep Brian’s memory alive – and she has decided to do that by taking part in the Great Wall of China Trek this October.
“I suppose part of why I’m doing this walk is also in Brian’s memory – he was with me every step of the way during my cancer treatment and whilst it was difficult for me, I think sometimes it was even more difficult for him,” she says.
“I know Brian felt helpless sometimes and it was a constant worry that maybe the treatment wasn’t going to work or that the cancer would come back.
“Thankfully the cancer responded to the treatment and we were looking forward to the day when I would get the all-clear.
“I know he’ll be with me during the walk and so proud that I’m actually doing it.”
Diane is due to fly out to Beijing on October 7, which would have been her and Brian’s 27th wedding anniversary.
- You can sponsor Diane by visiting her Justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/Diane-Smith24