10th April 2019

Alan Wiseman

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We all have passions in life. For Alan Wiseman, that love was vintage cars. When Alan passed away, his wife, Kay, knew she needed to honour that love at his ‘farewell journey’.

Alan with his wife, Kay

“Alan and I attended the funeral of a fellow member of the Dorset A7 Club. His hearse was followed by a procession of vintage cars. Alan turned to me and said, “What a sendoff!” When Alan died, I knew I wanted the same for him.

Alan had always loved his cars, ever since I meet him when I was just 14. He would spend hours tinkering and restoring these classic A7 cars. We’d then load them up and head off to France, Jersey or Guernsey. Every day was an adventure.

Alan was first diagnosed in September 2014. Fortunately for us all, it was caught early and he had surgery. He had his left lung removed in December and life continued as normal, with our two daughters, our son, who shared Alan’s love of cars, and three grandchildren who also enjoyed going out in the cars.

It was about 18 months later, Alan started to feel unwell and was having difficulty breathing. Since his surgery, he’d been having regular check-ups and x-rays, but not CT scans. When he started experiencing breathlessness, they decided to do a CT scan. But it was too late. The cancer was back in his remaining lung and this time, it has spread to his hip.

He had six months of chemo and radiotherapy but became very poorly on it. He passed away on 9th October 2017.

Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt and still feel. For me, it wasn’t just losing Alan but it was the manner in which he died which still haunts me. What if he’d had a CT scan earlier? Could that have given him, given us, more time together?

Kay on the difficulty of losing Alan

And then there was the matter of care after his second diagnosis. I don’t feel he was adequately cared for. He did not have a dedicated lung cancer nurse specialist and we received very little communication about his condition or treatment.

Knowing what I know now about Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and the great level of support the charity has given to me since, I wish we had known about them before Alan had died.

So much was out of my control. But what I could control was his sendoff and so I chose to focus on this.

With the help of the Dorset A7 Club, I arranged a 12-car procession for Alan’s farewell journey with one of Alan’s cars at the front. It was an incredible sight and a fitting goodbye to the most wonderful man.

We had the biggest crematorium and there still wasn’t enough room for everyone. It was clear to see how many people loved and cared for Alan. It made me feel immensely proud, knowing how much Alan would have loved it.

We had a collection at his funeral and raised over £1000. I desperately wanted it to go to a lung cancer charity. I wanted something good to come out of Alan’s death.

I then found out about Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. It conjured up lots of memories of growing up watching the man himself. I remember vividly the tour he did round the country, raising money and awareness for this awful disease. I knew then that this was where I wanted the money to go so this charity could provide better support for other families, significantly better than we had.

I’ve continued to support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Each year, we’ve done a walk in Alan’s memory and this year, I’m hoping to do another to commemorate would have been a wonderful year – our 50th wedding anniversary, my 70th birthday and Alan’s 75th. We’ll head off somewhere in the cars, go for a walk and then have a nice lunch somewhere. Simple. Classic. Alan.

Life still doesn’t feel right without Alan. I do what I can to carry on. I volunteer with the elderly, helping to look after them or just make sure they have someone to talk to. I believe we should help others.

You have to keep going. But it’s hard. It’s really hard. It helps knowing I’m playing a part in supporting others. That support is so vital. It can make the worst of times that little bit more bearable.”