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Darren Halmshaw

01 February 2018

Darren lost his wife, Pamela, in October 2016 after a ten-year fight with ovarian cancer. He shares his story.

“I was married to Pamela for 20 years. She was one of the strongest women I’ve ever met in my life. Anybody who met her just said ‘wow’, because she was so brave.

In 2006, we went to the doctors because we were struggling to conceive. Pamela was diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 ovarian cancer, which meant it wasn’t possible for us to have a second child. 

They say it’s not the cancer that gets you, it’s the treatment. That was true. The treatment was hard, but Pamela just got on with it. In fact, the only thing she ever moaned about was not being able to drive for two years after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumour. The radiation therapy also affected her mouth and nose, which also meant that she lost the ability to taste; a particularly devastating side-effect as food was part of family time - a time away from treatment. 

On the night before she died, Pamela wrote me a note on her phone to read to our daughter, Eve, who was fourteen at the time.  One of the instructions was that we should hold a fundraiser to raise money and awareness of the disease that had devastated our family. 

"On the night before she died, Pamela wrote me a note on her phone to read to our daughter Eve"

Darren Halmshaw

We challenged ourselves to cycle 36 miles to the top of Holme Moss, which forms part of the Tour de France. Me and my daughter were joined by a group of fourteen other cyclists and although the weather conditions were horrendous, the comradeship was amazing. I never thought I’d ride so high and so far and so hard. Out of something so sad and hard that we had last year, to be able to do the bike ride with my friends and family was amazing.

The cycle ride also seemed like a fitting challenge because the last time we went cycling as a family, Pamela fell in the canal! She came up saying ‘Where’s my bike, where’s my bike?’. It was in the canal with her. 

I smile when I see families out enjoying themselves but I wish that we could have had that. Our life was very different, we spent a lot of time in hospital having treatment. Getting a calendar at the beginning of each year and filling out birthdays feels like such a trivial thing but there is a deep sadness thinking of the birthdays and anniversaries Pamela won’t be there to celebrate. 

I hope nobody else has to experience what we’ve had to in the last 12 months but we’ve gone through it and we’re coming out of that dark hole now.

It’s just amazing that people have supported us the way they have and I’m just genuinely humbled by it all.”

Almost two decades are stolen from a woman who dies of ovarian cancer in the UK. A screening tool would change this. Help us raise £1million to protect future generations.