Laughter filled the street where 12-year-old Freddie and his Gannie, Chris, lived. The pair were big fans of fun and refused to let even a diagnosis of lung cancer get in their way. This positivity is something Freddie continues to carry with him as he tries to help make a difference to others living with the disease:
“Gannie lived next door to us and we shared a lot of lovely times together she would always make me laugh and loved being silly. I remember when we were out with my mum and my sister, Charlotte, in Exeter, she bought me a Whoopee cushion which provided a lot of entertainment at the restaurant we went to for lunch!
Her cupboards were always filled with goodies and she would always give me a cheeky bar of chocolate or packet of something if I was good. She made the best spaghetti bolognese and was always cooking something tasty for me, because ‘I was a growing lad who needed fuel in my boiler!’
Gannie was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2018, just a few weeks before her 70th birthday. I didn’t really know what lung cancer meant, but I knew that she was really poorly, and I wanted to help her feel better.
We threw the biggest birthday party with balloons and a big cake and invited all her friends and family. We didn’t want cancer to take away the fun times and she really wanted a birthday party.
We tried to make every day special. Mum bought her a purple wheelchair, so we could try and take her out as much as possible but a lot of days she was too tired and struggled to breathe. On those days, I would let her rest.
She had a big oxygen machine that helped her to breathe and a big bed that would go up and down, she had to take lots of tablets to ease her pain, she used to say that she rattled when she walked!
She stayed with us right to the very end and I got to see her every day. We watched the World Cup together in the summer and we had an England shirt printed with her name on the back so she could wear it when England played.
I miss her so much. Gannie had two Yorkshire Terriers called Harry and Daisy. Everywhere Gannie went, Harry and Daisy followed. Daisy had underlying health problems. She became poorly and passed away 3 days after Gannie. It was really sad but I feel that Daisy couldn’t live without her.
I now look after Harry for Gannie and he helps me when I feel sad about her not being here anymore as he lost her too. Gannie loved dogs. It is my dream to set up a dog’s home for unwanted dogs in her memory when I am older.
Until then, I’m following in my mum’s footsteps and raising money to help people like Gannie.
Mum’s been fundraising for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for a while. She runs marathons and is hoping to run another one again when the lockdown ends. She also had a gin tasting afternoon tea in January. Gannie loved gin and baking cakes. It raised over £1000. I wanted to do something too and thought a 5k would be a good idea.
I go out running with Mum and we talk about Gannie and remember the nice times we had together. I like that I can remember her this way and hope to raise some money to make a difference to those who have to live with this disease like my Gannie had too.”
Freddie’s mum, Emma, is understandably incredibly proud of her son:
“Freddie was really close to my mum and, because we kept her at home right to the end, he saw her disease first-hand. We spent nine months keeping her as comfortable and helping her get as much quality of life as we could. Freddie was very caring and empathetic to many of her needs in those final months.
Mum knew she couldn’t fight it and win. She knew it would eventually kill her so instead we chose to face it head on and tried to manage it as we could. We had many open conversations about it so he understood and could process what was going on. It was incredibly tough at times, but I feel blessed that we were able to look after her at home.
I have been raising money and trying to create awareness for the charity for the last year so, when Freddie wanted to get involved, I was really gratified. I am so proud of him and that he wants help others who are going through a similar journey as Mum did.”
You can show your support for Freddie by donating to his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Freddie-Bartlett