I knew that I might not survive. The cancer was highly aggressive and the surgeries were very risky, carrying a 50% percent paralysis risk. At times I was tempted to focus on the injustice of it all. I'd done nothing to deserve this, but no cancer patient ever does. So, instead of staring hopelessly at the bleakness of my situation I determined to be positive...
Deep down, we know that we should be safe in the sun. I certainly knew it, but my husband Graham thought he was 'indestructible' and so he didn't wear sun cream. It's only now, as a widow after Graham was cruelly snatched away by skin cancer when he was just 43 years old, that I can't believe I didn't act differently and make him protect himself.
Earlier this month health secretary Andrew Lansley hailed the 'fantastic' achievements of hospitals across England after the results of this year's national cancer patient experience survey showed three out of five hospital trusts have improved the level of care and support they provide to cancer patients... but it's not the whole story.
How we treat people at the end of life is the mark of our society and we only get one chance to get it right. It is time to forget about taboos, to find out what people's end of life wishes are and to act now to improve the system so that these can be respected. If we don't, people will continue to die alone in hospital unnecessarily.
Today, Macmillan Cancer Support launches new research which reveals for the first time the number and profile of people caring for others with cancer. And the results are concerning. Everyone affected by cancer deserves the right support and that includes cancer carers. It is a small simple step which can have such a good and lasting impact on carers. These people who selflessly give of themselves for the benefit of others shouldn't be forgotten any longer.