Jess remembers her dad, Robert, who sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2013
“The thing most people say about Dad is ‘he was one of the good ones’. He was one of those men that everybody just loved.
“Mum and Dad were married in 1979 and my sister and I came along to spoil the party in 1982 and 1985. Family life was incredibly happy. Holidays in the Dordogne, growing up in a fantastic village that Mum and Dad had made their home, and dog walks at weekends. Dad worked incredibly hard. He built up a business in the arts and prints trade and was well-respected in his field. Customers trusted him because he had a good product and a great relationship with them. We’re all proud of what he achieved in business.
His interests were simple: friends, family, sailing, rugby, cars, walks along the beach and of course the family dog. A very good taste in clothes we might add as well! In the last few years he enjoyed nothing more at weekends than an evening with friends or family eating good food and drinking red wine, watching a game of rugby with his future son-in-law Adam and taking a long walk with his beloved black Labrador Nell, and maybe one of his other girls! He was also an incredibly supportive son to his parents Doug & Jean and would do anything to support them.
Dad had been experiencing an increasing pain in his chest and back, we could not tell you how long for as in true Dad style he would have suffered with these symptoms for longer than any of us realised. In actual fact we cannot remember him ever having a day off sick for work.
His anxiety and worry about himself heightened until his diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer in September 2011 which devastated him and us. It felt like an emotional tsunami. We all felt his desperate desolation that ‘his girls’ would be left without their protector. He chose to cope with his own feelings about his diagnosis in private and focused his attention on how his daughters, our Mum, his Mum and the family Labrador Nell would be looked after. This was Robert Osborn all over and is just one of the reasons why he could hold his head high.
Dad needn’t feel ashamed of his lung cancer. He could hold his head high. He was an amazing man who could not have been anymore respected, liked or loved than he was.Jess couldn’t have been prouder of her dad, Robert
The care and attention he received from the Oncology Department at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford was second to none. When Dad first saw the oncologist he asked to look at his hands and commented on the poor condition of his nails, this being an early sign of lung cancer, something which we knew nothing about. For years his GP had repeatedly advised this was likely to be a fungal infection despite never improving with treatment. It’s scary the information that isn’t out there.
We were all hopeful when Dad went in for an operation in October 2011 to remove the cancer; sadly this was unsuccessful due to the cancer having already spread to the lining of the lung. This was the worst possible news for us all and the focus became life, simple pleasures, and making some final memories. I don’t think any of us fully appreciated what this final diagnosis meant for Dad and we didn’t have many discussions about timescales – we respected Mum and Dads decision on this who preferred to live everyday with hopefulness.
It is true, Dad had been a smoker as a young man and of course this could have been one of the causes of his lung cancer but who can say for sure that this was the sole cause. I remember a family event that Dad didn’t go to where, on asking about Dads diagnosis, a distant relative commented ‘oh shame, is he a smoker’? There seemed to be limited sympathy from those that believed smoking directly caused his cancer which unfortunately is the extent of some people’s knowledge about the disease.
Thankfully following the diagnosis everybody else around him rallied and the support from friends, family and the community was inspiring. There were a few people that perhaps hadn’t fully appreciated the extent of the illness and they were the most shocked when Dads health finally started to decline. Was Dad ever angry about his cancer? Yes perhaps, but he would never show it. Were we angry? Yes, with every morsel. And the unanswered question ‘why him?’ lives with us every day.
It felt like an emotional tsunami. We all felt his desperate desolation that ‘his girls’ would be left without their protector.Jess recalls that devastating moment when they learnt of Robert’s diagnosis
Sunday 13th January 2013 will forever be the worst day in all our lives but Dad was ready to go, he’d fought as hard and as bravely as he could for 16 months. Dad needn’t feel ashamed of his lung cancer. He could hold his head high. He was an amazing man who could not have been anymore respected, liked or loved than he was.
This is why we continue to raise money for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation – to help change the stigma attached to this disease, smoker or non-smoker. We’ll fight for this cause once again in April 2018 when his son-in-law Adam will run the London Marathon as part of Roy’s Runners. We’ll continue to celebrate the life of a man who faced his illness with honour and dignity and who we hope we are making proud by living life the way he taught us to.
Robert, Dad, Ossie – happy in the memory that he’s now on a beach somewhere strolling along the shoreline with a happy loyal Labrador at his side. Proud, I’ll say.”