They say lightning never strikes twice. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for sisters, Jinty, Heather and Donna. Having lost their father, Eddie, to lung cancer in 2012, their mother, Jessie, was then diagnosed eight years later and passed away in January.
In this fitting tribute, the sisters share the incredible life their parents shared together and how they are now honouring them both.
“We were absolutely devastated to lose mum to lung cancer, but there’s something almost poetic about it.
When Dad died, we set up a Lasting Tribute to share all our memories and fundraising for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Then when mum passed, it became the Jessie and Eddie McIntosh tribute page. Now we can keep them together and honour them both with all our future fundraising efforts.
A 40-year love story
On leaving the Merchant Navy, Dad found his way to the Drummond Arms Hotel in Comrie where he worked as culinary chef. It was here that a particular bonnie wee waitress over at the Four Seasons caught his eye & so he would dine there, for a bit of banter & a flirt. He courted this wee lass, walking the five miles between Comrie & St Fillans just to steal a kiss!
40 years after they married, Dad surprised Mum by taking her back to the Four Seasons where their life together began.
Mum and Dad loved each other deeply. They had the loyalty and respect that others would aspire to. Dad was very romantic; on their 25th wedding anniversary he swept Mum off to Paris and gave her the engagement ring she’d never had. Set in the ring were four stones, one to represent each of their children.
Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2012. He’d had a pain in his shoulder for over a year but, at the time, we didn’t know that was a symptom of lung cancer. It got so bad that he couldn’t even get down on the floor to play with his grandchildren. He was also very tired and, looking back now, he had also lost weight. Dad was always of a slight build, so the weight loss was hard to spot. It wasn’t until his diagnosis that it became more evident.
Dad was offered chemotherapy. As a family, we each had our own opinions on whether he should take it with a stage 4 diagnosis, but Dad wanted every opportunity to prolong his life. Ultimately, the decision was his and we respected it. He started chemo on 15th August but was hospitalised 2 days later with pneumonia. Sadly, he didn’t return home.
When Dad died, Mum’s heart would never recover. However, for the next 8 years her life was filled with joyful girlie time with her daughters and a series of firsts. She had first sex on the beach cocktail in Cyprus, her first pint of beer in Prague, 70th birthday celebrations in Italy. The list is long. She said we were a bad influence, but it wasn’t like she needed much encouragement!
Mum was the biggest cheerleader for all our fundraising. In 2015, we were honoured to run to the London Marathon for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and in 2020 we signed up for The Wall, a 70-mile ultra-event from Carlisle to Newcastle.
It was the perfect event to honour Dad’s memory – a mile for every year of his life, with the last mile for the milestone birthday he never reached. Mum was going to be waiting at the finish line for us to fall into her arms. Then the pandemic hit, the event was deferred, and Mum received her own lung cancer diagnosis.
Mum had started getting breathless. At first, it was only noticeable when she walked up a steep hill. But then we spotted she would be short of breath climbing the stairs – the charity’s Spot the Difference campaign really resonates with us – so we urged her to go to the doctor.
Because of the pandemic, our GP surgery cancelled all non-essential appointment. However, when we called to explain Mum’s symptoms, she was offered an appointment the next day and, after that, was sent straight for an ECG and chest x-ray.
Mum was diagnosed with stage 2b squamous cell carcinoma and had a lower right lobectomy. They successfully removed the tumour with good margins. Follow up chemo was offered but Mum made the decision not to have it.
That was in July. Five months later, she was due to have her latest follow up scan. But when I turned up to collect her, I thought she’d had a stroke. I rushed her to A&E where scans showed brain metastases, one at the front and another at the back. The only treatment option was palliative care.
We didn’t know if we would have the mental strength to navigate our grief and commit to the training for our deferred fundraising event. However, running together became our therapy after Dad died and since losing Mum, we need it now more than ever.
We’ve raised nearly £15k in total. Mum was immensely proud of this, and we know Dad would be too. It helps us all to know that we are raising funds to help other families impacted by lung cancer and raising awareness to hopefully give them a different outcome to us.”