Losing my wife and soul mate Katie is the most difficult thing I have ever had to face. It is a reality I had never imagined and should never have needed to comprehend, but in many ways, I was fortunate. I don't enjoy writing that, but there is a truth to it. During Katie's illness, I did everything I could to love and support her. Because of the time we did manage to have, we lived to the best of our ability and I gave all that I had to make the time we had together matter. So, in terms of what I was able to control, which didn't feel like very much, I have no regrets.
I cannot imagine how I would have felt if we had had less time - like so many unfortunate others. When Katie was diagnosed at 32 with Stage IV Lung Cancer, we didn't ask for a prognosis but statistics would tell you she had very little chance of seeing out the year. Yet, she did and we had 26 months in total. This is in no small part down to the modern drugs that were available to us. After 12 months of a gruelling chemotherapy regime, which we had to plan our lives very carefully around, Katie was given the opportunity to try immunotherapy - it was a game changer. Instead of having to race home from the treatment suite to get her to bed and continue to nurse her for 10-14 days, we were able to leave and go for lunch -- imagine that? It continued to work for some time and during that period we were able to do some of the things Katie had always dreamed of doing: floating in the Dead Sea; going to the Western Wall in Jerusalem; swimming with dolphins in Key West, going up the Eiffel Tower and, most importantly of all, we got married!
I remember family and friends warning me about going away, particularly to America - so far away - "What if she needs medical treatment while you're there?", "What if you need to rush home?" They were right in their minds and I understood their concerns, but something changes when you know your time is limited and that any of those holidays or moments could be your last; you go, you just do it. Life and memories become even more precious and potential problems that haven't even occurred simply fade. We had enough problems! If any more reared their head, we would simply deal with them at the time. I treasure every one of those moments now. No regrets. We lived a day at a time as that was all we had and, quite frankly, I still feel that way now. Life is for living.
When I was asked to join the Time of My Life campaign, I immediately said yes despite the fear inside that I was going to expose my vulnerabilities and share such personal information. The filming of the video was difficult for me but seeing my wedding dance again having not watched it since Katie died was even harder. To see us dancing together again, smiling and kissing, being so truly happy despite what we faced, left me bereft... but Katie would have done it. She believed vehemently that modern cancer therapies should be available to all. She believed it was a person's right, irrelevant of prognosis, age or status. A few extra months means everything. She campaigned for others who may not have had the same access to life enhancing drugs that she had.
Since Katie's passing, I have started a blog www.34forever.com. It is about Katie, it is about me, our journey and my attempts to move forward. I hope it will help others in similar situations to identify and connect. Widowhood is a very lonely place, however well supported you may be by friends and family.
I hope some of what I have written has resonated with you and I urge you to join this campaign by liking and sharing my video along with Cher and Rebecca, who have shared their story too. Let's spread the word together that everybody deserves to live as full a life as possible, for as long as possible.
Daniel is supporting the Time of My Life campaign, which is being led by a coalition of cancer charities (Ovacome, Action on Womb Cancer, Melanoma UK, Fight Bladder Cancer and Second Hope), together with Roche, to raise awareness about the importance of access to modern treatments for people with incurable cancer. Like and share Daniel's video with #TimeOfMyLife to support the campaign.