There were many things to love about Vera Lord. From her infamous Elvis impersonations to her world-class gravy, and, above all, the way she put her family first – even during those gruelling chemo sessions. Now her son, Stephen, shares his memories of his Mam to keep her memory alive and help prevent others going through what his family has endured.
“When I think about my Mam, I smile. There are so many happy memories, from holidays to Porthcawl and Minehead Butlins to roast dinners every Sunday. Mam was at her happiest cooking a roast for her family. If I think about it, I can still taste her special delicious gravy.
Mam exuded love and fun. She used to dress up for street parties. I remember one time she joined forces with some of the women in the street to perform a concert. She was Elvis! The phrase young at heart very much summed Mam up. Despite being in her 70s, she embraced technology and loved Facebook, especially the Criminal Case games.
She was a wonderful mother and grandmother to my son Cameron and my nieces, Courteney and Maddison, who were especially close to her. We all had a lovely relationship with her.
It took eight months for her to be diagnosed. She had a persistent cough and went back and forth to the doctors. Antibiotics didn’t clear it up and all x-rays came back normal. It wasn’t until they found a broken rib for an unknown reason that they decided to investigate further.
By this time, the cancer had metastatic to other areas of her body, including her bones. She was eventually diagnosed with stage 4 small cell lung cancer on 5th June 2017. She didn’t want to know her prognosis but we, her family, were told it would be a surprise if she was still here at Christmas.
Mam had two rounds of chemotherapy, which kept her cancer stable, but made her so ill. Despite this, never once did she show weakness or sorrow. She was always trying to protect her family from the pain and heartache she was going through. She made the decision though to stop her treatment so she could have quality time with us. That included one last Christmas.
We booked a converted stable about 10 miles from my parent’s house and all had Christmas together – Mam and Dad, me, my wife Jane and Cameron and my sister Lisa and Courteney and Maddison.
It was a beautiful and happy day, with us sharing laughs and memories. And, of course, with lashings of Mam’s gravy!
Despite the prognosis, we got five more months with Mam. She died two days before her 74th birthday, on Monday 14th May 2018, 11 months after diagnosis. She was at home with myself, my Dad and her two granddaughters whilst listening to her favourite Billy Fury song, Halfway to Paradise.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. She’s a huge loss and has left a gaping hole in our family. It is because of this that I wanted to raise money for a lung cancer charity and when I saw Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation was doing a 90s run, it was even more of an incentive. I loved the 90s! It was the decade of firsts for me. My first girlfriend. My first car. My first job. My first alcoholic drink!
I only started running this March. I did ‘Couch to 5k’ in 8 weeks then, after 27 days off, I set a bigger challenge of running a marathon in 20 days. The furthest I’ve done in one run is 5 miles, which I’ve done twice, along with a 4-mile run and two 3 milers. So, I have 6 miles to go which I hope to complete in 2 more runs. My knees are starting to become sore after a run, so I need more recovery time and plenty of ice! But I’ll get there. I’ll do it for Mam.”
You can show your support to Stephen by making a donation to his JustGiving page.