Beating bowel cancer together

Kayleigh Archibald, Orkney Islands

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I lost my Granny Audrey to bowel cancer in March 2017. She had been poorly around Christmas 2015 with the flu, so I hadn't seen her for around a month, which was unusual as I normally saw her often.

At the beginning of 2016, I noticed Granny had lost an awful lot of weight. She was quite private regarding her health and did not like to be a burden to other people, so she never let on that anything was wrong.

Granny was generally a healthy and strong person, so it seems strange but I had an instinct that this was much more than a flu.

At the time, I was working for a cancer support charity shop and I just remember Granny stating she was going to have treatment for bowel cancer.

We have a tight-knit family, but Granny wasn't the type of person to sit us all down and tell us she had been diagnosed. She liked to get on with things, so to speak, she had made the decision to go for chemotherapy.

I accompanied Granny, during one of her trips for chemo, to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. As awful as the situation was, we enjoyed our time together.

We spent the time sat in her room having a laugh at daytime TV, reminisced about her past and spoke about what everyone in the family was up to. I could feel that it was important to her, that we were all happy.

After her treatment, we went for a fish and chip supper and I look back on this time fondly. Granny seemed at peace, despite living with cancer.

Granny loved being surrounded by family. We often had big gatherings for birthdays, marriages, relatives visiting from south, any excuse for a get together! On Mother's Day 2017, Granny was staying at the local Macmillan ward.

That day was so special, as all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren visited her with cards and flowers.

Those that could not be there in person, made sure to call. The memory of that day is one of happiness, with the kids running around and Granny smiling and laughing at their antics.

We were all expecting Granny to leave hospital, but the next day she became very poorly. Granny passed away Tuesday 28th March, aged 74, two days after that special Mother's Day.

Granny left such a legacy in that, because of her, we have this large, close family. We talk about her often, always fond memories full of fun and laughter. It would have been her and Grandad's 60th wedding anniversary last year.

She is hugely missed, she was always taking photographs and we used to joke about her taking so many. But I am so thankful now that she did, we have those to look back on.

I have travelled a lot and whenever I ventured away, Granny would say; 'Don't buy me a souvenir, just take me a photo.' I love taking photos during my travels to places such as Japan, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

China has been somewhere that I have wanted to visit, especially to see the Great Wall. This September I am taking part in the Great Wall Discovery Challenge, to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK.

It seems really fitting to combine an adventure that is on my bucket list, with a cause that is so close to my heart.

The challenge takes place over five days and involves trekking over crumbling, twisting pathways and climbing thousands of uneven stairs.

We’ll trek for around five to seven hours per day, covering approximately 50km of tricky terrain. Some sections of the wall are at quite a height and exposed to the elements.

I have no doubt, whatever challenges this may bring, that Granny will be with me every step of the way.

If you would like to support this amazing adventure, in memory of Granny Audrey, you can donate to my JustGiving page.

I am self-funding my challenge, so every penny raised goes to Bowel Cancer UK. Every single donation is so hugely appreciated.


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