Real Life: I gave up work for a better life then I was told I had cancer
It’s been a whirlwind four years with some pretty emotional highs and lows but now life’s good for the 43-year-old.
But it’s a million miles from the way she was feeling four- and-a-half years ago. Then she didn’t think she would see her 40th birthday. “When I think of what I’ve done in the past four years it’s unbelievable,” says Adele.
Turn back the clock to when Adele was working as assistant director for the Home Office in asylum claims in Solihull and things were very different. Life was ticking along nicely.
“At the time I enjoyed my job. It was a busy place but I absolutely loved it. I loved the people and the work.”
But as the Government changed the way things were run in the department, making it more target driven, it became too stressful for Adele, from Stafford.
“I was doing 15-hour days, driving to and from work as well as my time in the office, it was too much,” she says.
So Adele gave up her job to take some time out and to start to enjoy her life again. But a few weeks later on holiday with the girls things took a dramatic turn.
“I was suffering from really bad period pains. I can remember I was in absolute agony. I took about 16 paracetamol in about two hours. But they just didn’t work.
“We were staying at the holiday home of my friend’s dad and she found one of his strong painkillers so I took one. My speech was all slurred but I was still in agony,” she recalls. “Nothing seemed to work.”
When she got home she went to her GP and was referred to a specialist who told her she should see a gynaecologist.
“I went and she was awful. She was so rude. She was horrible. I was in agony and she didn’t seem to want to help at all.”
Adele went on to have various scans and blood tests but they couldn’t pin-point the problem.Buy Cheap Michael Kors Satchel at Michael kors handbags outlet online store.
One day she was lying in bed crying from the pain. “My stomach was bloated I looked six months pregnant. I didn’t know what to do.”
She says that Tim, her partner at the time, now her husband, was so angry. “I remember him saying, ‘this has got to stop. You’ve got to sort it out’. So I did. I went back to the gynaecologist and insisted they do more tests.”
It was during this visit that Adele’s worst fears were realised. “They did another scan and the doctor said she couldn’t find my ovaries, only a mass where they should be. She said I needed to have them removed and possibly have a full hysterectomy. I was in shock I couldn’t take it in.”
It was at this point Adele decided to use private health care and this is where she met Mr Kirk Chin, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Stafford Hospital. “He was great, really great,” she smiles.
He continued with the tests until he had to break the news to Adele that she had bi-lateral ovarian cancer.
“I had given up my job to have a better life. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer,” she frowns.
Not only did Adele have to take in the fact she had cancer, she had to deal with knowing she would never have children. “We weren’t trying to have children but we weren’t adverse to the idea either.
“I remember feeling in total shock. He told me I would have to have a hysterectomy as soon as possible. The first thing I said was, ‘I can’t, I’ve got horses’. He reasoned with me and told me I had to come back by the end of the week and if didn’t agree he would keep me in and do it there and then. I agreed.”
It was then that Adele asked the question she didn’t really want to hear the answer to. “I wanted to know, ‘am I going to die?’
“He said ‘not if I can help it’ and I believed him.”
At this point Adele hadn’t broken the news to Tim who was waiting outside. “His face just went grey when I told him,” she remembers. But she was ready to fight it.
By now Adele had got used to the care she received by going private and also the food. When Mr Chin said she had to see an oncologist she asked if this too could be done privately. Mr Chin advised her that the oncologist he would like her to see was Dr Susan Lupton.
“He said she wasn’t private but she was the best.” And she was and still is in Adele’s eyes.
She went to Stafford Hospital for her chemotherapy under the care of Dr Lupton.
“The nurses at Stafford were amazing – real angels and are now personal close friends. One day when I couldn’t have my chemo because my bloods were too low, I went into the hospital all dressed up in my best dress, hat and heels as it was Ladies Day at Ascot – I put all the TVs on and had the patients betting on the races (for biscuits no money unfortunately). They all thought I was a celebrity there to help cheer them up!”
It turns out that Dr Lupton was one of Adele’s saviours. “She was the best and she was brilliant. I couldn’t have got through it without her,” Adele says with tears in her eyes.
In fact, Adele rated her so highly that even after having surgery and six sessions of chemotherapy she refused to be seen by anyone else and waited until Dr Lupton had returned to work after maternity leave.
But that’s how Adele comes across, she is very strong and determined, full of fighting spirit. “Sometimes after the chemo I’d get really low and think ‘I’d rather die than go through this’.
But Adele had another saviour, her horse Leah. “Five-and-a-half-weeks after the surgery I was back on my horses. I couldn’t get off them but that didn’t matter!”
“I used to collect shoes and handbags but now I collect horses.” Adele also had a motorbike but sold that to buy ‘real horsepower’.
Now she surrounds herself and her husband with their animals. Her three horses Leah, Rocky, Rosie, three dogs, Blue and Sam, both Jack Russells, and Jake, a cocker spaniel labrador cross and her two cats Salt and Pepper.
And how does she feel to keep reliving such a painful time? “If telling my story helps one person get checked out and saves that person, then at least I’ve done something to help someone.”
It’s something she feels very strongly about, making people aware of the disease, which is known as ‘the silent killer’. She appeared on Lorraine Kelly’s television show earlier this year to help promote Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Her tireless efforts of fundraising have helped both the Eve Appeal and Cancer Research to the tune of $20,000.
It was at a charity ball she had organised where she gave a speech about dates. “I wanted to give a speech to share some important and memorable dates. One was April 7, 2009, which was the date my hair started to fall out,” Adele recalls. She started to lose her long blonde hair during her chemotherapy treatment. “I remember feeling sick. I cried for 24 hours and I was on my own because Tim was away. I didn’t leave the house.”
But being made of sterner stuff she made the decision to shave it all off as she didn’t want it falling out in clumps. “It was hard. I felt awful, but you just have to get over it,” she says matter-of-factly.
Another key date in Adele’s life is May 30, 2011 when she ran with the Olympic torch through Haughton in Staffordshire. “Apart from my wedding day, being a torchbearer was one of the best days of my life.”
She goes on to say her schoolfriend, Ann-Marie Cooper nominated her. “I couldn’t believe it. It was enough to be nominated but being chosen was amazing. I was just overwhelmed.”
And where is the torch now? “We’re going to have it put up in our new kitchen,” smiles Adele. After things had settled down and Adele was told her cancer was in remission she was busy planning her wedding. “I’d have been happy going to Stafford registry office after all that but Tim wanted something special. I didn’t want to marry in a church saying the traditional vows because I didn’t want to say the words ‘til death do us part’. I was Googling places abroad and found a wedding venue in Italy and it looked so plain, simple and rustic and I thought ‘that’s me’.”
So she picked out her Suzanne Neville gown from Margot Raybould in Beatties, House of Fraser, Wolverhampton. The couple flew out to Lake Iseo in Italy to get married in September 2011 and enjoyed a delayed honeymoon to Kuredu in the Maldives the following year.
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