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8th June 2020

Remembering Wendy Ward

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Today [Monday 8th June] would have been Wendy’s 54th birthday. Her husband, Keith, wanted to use this milestone as a way to help others, raising awareness of the disease which took his wife of nearly 30 years.

“If Wendy was still here, and there wasn’t a global pandemic on(!), we would be packing up a picnic and heading off to the TT races. Wendy’s birthday always fell during race week. Instead, we will be having a social distant tea party in our garden – me, our daughter, Natalie, Wendy’s two sisters and her mum.

Family was everything to Wendy. She doted on her two granddaughters, as well as our daughter and her son, Sean.

She was an absolute cleaning fanatic, a bit of a Monica from Friends, and she applied this same meticulous nature to her work. She worked at the estate agent, Chrystals, on the island for 20 years before moving to Microgaming as PA to the CEO.

Wendy was so happy working at Microgaming. She loved everything about her job there, especially her colleagues. The feeling was definitely mutual, and this became even more apparent after her diagnosis.

It was back in October 2017 when our lives took a dramatic turn. Wendy and I were on holiday in Crete when she slipped and banged her back. She was ok until Christmas but, in January, she started getting really bad back pains.

She went to the doctors, who originally put it down to the fall and then thought it could be kidney stones. However, two months later, the pain got so bad that we ended up in casualty. It was then that we found out; Wendy had small cell lung cancer.

We were stunned. With the exception of her back pain, she had no symptoms. She wasn’t breathless. She never coughed once. I still can’t get my head around that, how something this severe could happen with no signs, no warning.

Wendy had radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She experienced little sickness from the chemotherapy but she never complained. That’s who she was. She was my hero.

Small cell lung cancer tends to be the most aggressive form of the disease, but Wendy reacted well to her treatment. Her incredible employers, Microgaming, who were so supportive throughout her illness, arranged for her to see a specialist in London and, 14 months into her diagnosis, he couldn’t believe how good she looked. I’m actually really glad she had that fall and had back pain because, without it, who knows how far the disease would have progressed otherwise and whether she would have responded so well to treatment.

Sadly though, Wendy went downhill very fast at the end. We had a weekend away in Manchester at the beginning of November. We went to watch Manchester United against Brighton. Wendy was in a wheelchair at the time, so we couldn’t sit in our ticketed seats. Instead, the steward led us around the pitch and we sat right behind the goal.

It was fantastic weekend, made even better by a Man U victory. But, when we returned home, it was like a switch went off in Wendy. The cancer spread further into her brain and she lost her speech. I could still tell when was mad with me though! That unmistakable look of hers didn’t need any words!

Wendy passed away, less than three weeks later, on the 1st December 2019.

This year, we would have been married for 30 years. We would have probably marked the occasion with a great holiday. We loved going away. We’ve went to Las Vegas once to see Barry Manilow, staying at Caesar’s Palace on the strip. What a place that is! I think its lobby alone is bigger than the whole of the Isle of Man! It would have been good to have had the chance to go back there again together.

Instead, I am at home, surrounded by memories. It’s hard, especially at the minute being in lockdown.

Fortunately, I’m not on my own; our daughter is living with me and I’m very grateful for that. We’ve done a lot of lovely walks together during lockdown which we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

I guess you just have to try and look for the good in every situation, however awful it is. It’s what Wendy would have done, so it’s what I’m trying to do.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to share Wendy’s story. There is so little awareness around lung cancer, despite the shocking numbers it affects. Perhaps, if we’d known more, Wendy could have been diagnosed earlier.

It might not have been early enough to save her, but it could have given us more time. I hope sharing her story gives someone else more time with their family, more time to play with their grandchildren, to watch them grow. More time to celebrate those big milestones, like a Pearl Wedding Anniversary, or just more time together.”

Keith has set up a tribute page in memory of Wendy and, to date, has raised more than £5000. This includes a £3000 donation from Wendy’s employers at Microgaming, in honour of her birthday.