Maria adapted her plans to fundraise during lockdown in memory of her daughter Sarah.
Various members of the Emly family were set to take part in Ovarian Cancer Action’s London Walk in Her Name but COVID-19 had other plans. With the event cancelled, Maria took on her own Step Challenge to fundraise for ovarian cancer research.
"Sarah was a wonderful daughter, sister, aunty, godmother and friend. She always saw the best in people, had a great zest for life, a delightful sense of humour, and an ever-present smile that lit up any room. She was a very modest, generous, loyal, caring and beautiful lady.
She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in July 2015, aged just 41, having had vague gastro-intestinal symptoms for only three months. She had major surgery to remove as much of the disease and affected areas as possible, but due to the extent and high grade of the cancer it was not possible to remove it all. She remained very ill in hospital for a month, enduring cardio-thoracic surgery to deal with fluid round her lungs and heart. She was finally discharged a month later.
"During her illness Sarah remained positive throughout and was an inspiration to us all"Maria Emly
Sarah’s first cycle of chemotherapy ended on New Year’s Eve 2015 and was amazingly successful – so much so that her consultant nicknamed her ‘Lazarus’! She spent the first half of 2016 recovering her strength before returning to work. However, by November her tumour markers were rising again, so she underwent further chemotherapy. In the spring of 2017 she started on a new type of drug, a PARP inhibitor, which she found difficult to tolerate. Despite this, she was well enough to have her annual holidays to Venice in June and Guernsey in August. Sadly, she was re-admitted to hospital in early December 2017. She initially started to feel better but sadly it was not to be. Sarah died in hospital in the afternoon of Saturday 16 December, surrounded by her family.
During her illness Sarah remained positive throughout and was an inspiration to us all. Thanks to advances in medical science and the wonderful care of consultants, specialists and nurses, she enjoyed nearly two and a half years of active life following her initial surgery. She was able to socialise with her many friends, watch her five nephews grow, return to work and enjoy family holidays. For this we are truly thankful.
Since the London Walk in Her Name event was cancelled, I completed a 6km walk in my garden on my birthday, 4th May, instead. I had a lot of support from family and friends so could not let them down. The weather was pleasantly warm and sunny with John, who claims to be my trainer, providing encouragement and an espresso at the half-way mark.
As a family, we have so many happy memories of our life with Sarah, and our lives will never be the same now she has gone. Sarah – we love you and miss you so much, but we shall never forget you and the wonderful 43 years you shared with us."
The Emly family, supported by donations and sponsorship from Sarah's friends and colleagues, has so far raised almost £60,000 to fund research projects across three vital areas: prevention, earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments. Improvements in each of these areas will transform the lives of women today and for generations to come.
Support Ovarian Cancer Action’s life-saving research here.