Alan Roberts pays tribute to his beloved wife, Carys, who lost her life to ovarian cancer in March this year. A hugely talented artist, the sale of Carys's artwork has left an incredible legacy, helping to raise £25,000 for a number of cancer charities.
"Carys and I met 44 years ago at a students’ union disco. You could say it was love at first sight. By the end of the evening we had planned a studio at the end of the garden for her, and a lab, (I was a physicist), for me. It took 42 years to come true when in 2016 we built a studio for us both in the garden. By then I was an artist too.
What we didn’t expect was that our happy retirement would be cut short by ovarian cancer. This dreadful disease has taken my beloved, my soulmate and my best friend.
She was a very Welsh lady with large sparkling eyes and an infectious smile. She was wonderful, generous and wild in so many ways, as a true artist should be. As a teacher, she was patient and thoughtful and always got the best from her pupils.
We married in the heat of the summer of 1976. A Liverpudlian lad and a Welsh girl, perfect! We had two wonderful daughters, both of them Welsh speaking, and two raucous grandchildren. Carys loved her family and lived for them and our friends.
Carys’s problems started soon after she had nursed me through prostate cancer. She was experiencing pain in her colon. The problem was that Carys had had colitis since she was 21, but this was in control and had been for a long time. The regular symptoms were masking what was really happening. We were worried and repeatedly asked for more tests, but we were lost in the system. If she had the tests earlier, I truly believe that Carys would be here now.
Even when she said that her Mam had died of bowel cancer at 62, after an operation that left her with a stoma, it fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t related they said and it was just the colitis. She always said she knew she would die of the same
Eventually, we pushed enough for a perceptive consultant to test further, and we discovered the awful truth.
"Our message, because Carys is beside me now and always, is that you should never give up"Alan Roberts
It was a late diagnosis and Carys had a massive hysterectomy to remove affected organs and tissues and this left her with a stoma. All she had feared was coming true, and all for the want of an earlier diagnosis.
Chemo took a long time to organise and two different rounds of it proved unsuccessful. It was a virulent form of cancer and the late diagnosis made it difficult to treat.
Out of desperation we opted for a new drug trial which was dispensed with a low dose chemo. The NHS staff in Cardiff were wonderful, but the only available place on the trial was also a low dose of the drug. I think we knew it would not work, but anything for more time together and with our family and friends.
At Christmas 2017 we knew it wasn’t working and the cancer had spread to other organs. The pain was getting worse and more and more morphine injections were needed daily. I learned the true meaning of pain and suffering nursing Carys through it. I never want to see another living being go through that again.
Throughout her illness, Carys showed the greatest of courage and fortitude, even when she knew her time was short. The day before she died on the 3rd of March 2018 she was receiving visitors in the hospice with smiles, giving encouragement to all, even though we had been told the day before that there was no hope. She never, ever gave up.
Our message, because Carys is beside me now and always, is that you should never give up either. Fight and fight again against the system and get those tests, get that diagnoses, get that treatment.
We have raised about £25,000 in total for a variety of cancer charities before and since Carys passed away, mainly from the sale of her wonderful artwork. That was what she wanted. She said that if it helped just one woman not have to go through the pain and suffering she had, it was worth it.
The ashes of the woman I love now lie under a flowering cherry tree on the shores of Swansea Bay at a place she loved to sketch from."
Our supporters inspire us every day with their creative fundraising ideas. If you have an idea or would like some inspiration, please contact Jessica.Vigni@ovarian.org.uk, who will help you put your plan into action!