Su-a on walking in celebration of her husband

Thursday 01 June 2023

Maggie's Edinburgh

I’d heard about Maggie’s for as long as I can remember. Many of my friends had had some contact with it. But the first time I went to visit Maggie’s myself was through my husband Gordon.

Meeting Gordon

I met Gordon just after he'd finished his treatment.

We started out by writing to each other online as he was about to embark on a 500-mile pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago.

He was fundraising for Maggie’s and Cancer Research, and writing a blog of his journey. I would read that alongside emailing him.

He had been diagnosed with stage four melanoma, and been through significant treatment. His walk of the Camino was I think, really, a way of processing everything to do with him having such an advanced diagnosis.

Gordon’s diagnosis

After the Camino, we met in person. It was perfect.

But he soon went for further tests where the scans showed that the melanoma had got into his bones.

The first time I went to visit Maggie’s myself was after Gordon insisted I go because Maggie’s had been so helpful to him.

Right from the beginning, Andy at the centre was incredible. He’s so warm and open, and created such a relaxed atmosphere.

After that, I started going regularly, probably once a week. I continued to see Andy throughout Gordon’s illness and carried on for a year or two after his death.

The total time that we had together was only about a year and a half. But it was incredibly intense. And we married just six months before he died.

Maggie’s became even more helpful after Gordon’s death, in a way. Every time I went, I always came out feeling better. It became so important to have that outlet and support and someone who really understands.

Fundraising for Maggie’s

The Camino was very important in our lives. Gordon even expressed it as a wish in his will for his two sons to do it. I knew that I would definitely do it.

After he died, I just wanted to plan it as soon as possible. I also wanted to fundraise for Maggie’s as Gordon had done when he did it.

I said to him in his last few hours, “By the way, when I do the Camino, I’m going to beat your fundraising figure.”

In fact, I beat it as I was crossing a bridge to the starting point in France, and I had doubled it by the time I finished it 5 weeks later.

"I raised over £33,000 and I knew that Gordon would have been very proud."

I always think things happen for a reason; synchronicity and serendipity are very much part of my life.

Events and their meanings

So many things happen to me, the most important events in my life always have extra, powerful meanings. Things seem to sort of converge, in ways that are totally unplanned.

It only hit me when I got there, but the day that I first set foot on the pilgrimage was our exactly a year after we married.

The first of 500 miles I walked was on our first wedding anniversary. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach when I realised that.

I’d never really thought of the date, and I couldn’t have planned anything that was more meaningful than what I was doing.

This Camino was purely and absolutely at the heart of our relationship. And, all of that stuff, when it’s not planned and just happens, it really hits you.

It felt like I was being led, without realising it. I did feel constantly accompanied, and I still do. I do feel something like a presence. He’s very much looking out for me.

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