1 in 2 of us will develop cancer in our lifetime, and when Kathryn Rudge's Dad was diagnosed in 2005, her and her family's world was turned upside down. Now a Clatterbridge Patron, Kathryn tells us what it was like to experience the care and support Clatterbridge provided, whilst touring as a professional Opera Singer.
"My Mum, Dad and I were a really close family. When my Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2005, it felt as though our world had been tipped upside down. Dad's cancer diagnosis came out of the blue and we felt overwhelming uncertainty about the future and what would now happen in our lives. Dad was unable to continue working as a Lecturer and Head of Quality and Equality at The City of Liverpool College due to his symptoms and treatment, so Mum became his wonderful carer and together they were a great team. At the time, I was 19 and in my second year of Singing Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. When Dad received his diagnosis, my mind was racing and I wanted to drop everything to be with my parents. Little did I know that by taking one day at a time, there was so much that would still be possible for us and that we would share some much brighter days together."
Her Dad's treatments for Myeloma spanned over eight years, which included various courses of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy and it was throughout this time that Kathryn and her parents came to know The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and it's staff so well. Whilst facing regular appointments, treatments and results felt like a daunting prospect, they were never alone and Clatterbridge helped them every step of the way. For them, it was never about 'beating cancer', but it was about living their lives together, and to the fullest for as long as they could.
"I visited the hospital with Mum and Dad many times over the years, and we were always so grateful for the hard work, guidance and expertise offered with great compassion by all of the staff. Dad especially loved meeting and speaking to the staff, and fellow patients; it was always a huge boost and a comfort to know we would never have to face this alone. During Dad's journey, I completed my studies and began singing professionally as an Opera Singer. Performances meant that I was often taken further afield, and between appointments and treatments Clatterbridge enabled us to enjoy time on the road together. We were able to make and share the best memories and I am certain that none of this would have been possible without the support, and the care we received from the hospital. We were able to continue living life to the fullest for many years in ways that we could never have imagined at the beginning of Dad's diagnosis."
Sadly, Kathryn's Dad passed away in 2014, and just four years later Kathryn's Mum was diagnosed with terminal Lung Cancer. Clatterbridge was able to once again step in and be there for Kathryn and her Mum.
"We were able to make many special memories during Mum's final months, and I will never forget having the chance to sing for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity's Christmas event in 2018. The joy of seeing my Mum in the audience, after she had completed her Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy treatment was something I'll never forget. Although we were facing our last Christmas together, that evening felt like there was so much to be thankful for and to celebrate. It was so uplifting to hear of the hard work, the dedication and the achievements of everyone involved with Clatterbridge and to see the new hospital now open in Liverpool really has been the brightest light at the end of the Mersey Tunnel. For as long as I can, in Mum and Dad's memory, it will be the biggest honour for me to help and support The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity and be a patron. There will always be a song in my heart for all of the Clatterbridge staff, their patients and their relatives. Having lost both my parents to cancer, I am committed to helping Clatterbridge provide the best possible care for cancer patients while researching new, more gentle treatments. That's why, this Christmas, I am supporting their Christmas Fairy Appeal. Throughout December, hundreds of Fairies will be displayed on Christmas Trees at their centres in Liverpool, Wirral and Aintree, each one representing someone special. This year, it is more important than ever to support your local cancer charity and the Christmas Fairy Appeal is a lovely way to do this."
We would like to extend our thanks to Kathryn for supporting us with this year's Christmas Fairy Appeal. We know 2020 has been a challenge for so many people, and while COVID-19 has been a threat to us all, it has also impacted cancer services across the country. The pandemic has sadly resulted in a significant reduction in people being referred for urgent cancer treatment, and it is believed that millions of people have missed cancer screenings since March. However, our team at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre has done some incredible work to keep our patients and staff safe, including opening the first ever cancer hospital in Liverpool.