Steve Evans and the final leg of the journey

Richard and Steve

 

Steve Evans passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning 16 January 2014.  The following words were written two days before.

Rest in peace Steve

Today I listened to Steve Evans ‘final’ radio interview with his good friend Richard Bacon for Radio 5 Live.  I defy anyone not to be moved to tears like me!

As previously blogged, I have followed Steve’s journey since I first heard him chatting to Richard on one his most excellent daily chat and news shows back in May 2013.  I, like many people, was inspired and absolutely in awe of someone who is able to face such adversity with humour and, as Richard nails it, resilience.

I don’t know what the coming days and weeks will bring for Steve, but, as he describes it, from his carriage he can probably see the final destination, and he is somewhere near the back of the train.  Steve is blessed with some amazing family and friends who always rally round him when things get particularly tough.  Now is one of those times, and like a well oiled machine Team Evo springs into action!  One of his best friends JP has been doing an amazing job of keeping Steve’s many friends informed of his progress and posting updates with the usual humour; Steve is still a wanker, and JP can’t even write properly!  Even in these challenging times, they make a great double act!

As we move with Steve along the final leg of his amazing journey, I feel I have been honoured to be part of it in some small way, in touch on Twitter and Facebook, while never actually meeting him.  He has touched the lives of so many people, including mine, is and will always be, an inspiration.

Much love xx

Steve Evans

 

 

Saying farewell to a special lady

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

A few days ago I attended the funeral of a special lady.  Her name is Yvonne and she is the mother-in-law of my husband’s brother and grandmother to two of my many nephews and nieces.  She was 88.

I didn’t know Yvonne as well as the many others who came to offer their last respects, but I do remember her fondly, and apart from wanting to pay my own respects, I also wanted to be there to support my husband and our family.

A few years ago, like me, Yvonne was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And, like me I believe, she was a fighter.  She didn’t make a fuss, she just wanted to get on with her full life, while at the same time handling the diagnosis and her subsequent treatment with dignity.  I think that word sums her up.  She epitomised dignity.  The treatment at the time went well, but sadly, other health complications took their toll.

Yvonne Wheeler

RIP Yvonne

When we met Yvonne on family occasions, she would always make a point of asking me how I was feeling, and how I was getting on, during and post treatment.  She loved our kids too, always asking after them.  And of course she loved her own kids and their kids.  She loved life and devoted a lot of it to helping other people.

And in a fitting tribute to Yvonne, the funeral service was as dignified as she was.  The words.  The music.

The words

Yvonne’s grandchildren were brave enough to contribute words for their nan at the service.  My nephew had put together a poem in tribute.  He took his place and began to read the words.  He took deep breaths and pauses, but he was starting to get choked with emotion.  We all felt for him, it was a very emotional occasion.  With no fuss, the celebrant took over the reading of the poem, and we all shared in the moving tribute, tinged with humour.

My niece also found the occasion overwhelming and after a confident start reading Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott Holland, the celebrant completed the poem.

I admired both of them for what they did – it’s not easy to speak in front of people at the best of times, let alone at a funeral gathering.  But their reaction kind of transcended the words they were each meant to speak.  The emotion and the meaning was there for all to feel and witness.

The music

Apart from the suitably beautiful hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended, and Amazing Grace, Yvonne’s family chose pieces of music that either meant a lot to her or perfectly summed up her life and the occasion. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler and The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand captured the mood and emotion of the proceedings, and Beethoven’s Fur Elise added a fitting finale to the tributes.

The celebrant gave us some insight into Yvonne’s life.  She was born into a fairly affluent family but her parents separating in the early part of her life meant a time of great change.  She embraced the changes and later on her new family, and when war broke out she not only volunteered to become an army dispatch motorbike rider, she also met her husband to be.  Within a few months she was married, and soon bringing up children of her own, a very traditional family set up.  Sadly Yvonne’s husband passed away far too early in his life, but her determination meant that her children didn’t suffer as a result.  In later life she loved to meet her children and grandchildren, often for lunch.  One of her favourite treats being Mr Kipling’s French Fancies, which went on to become forever known as Nanny Cakes!

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

Nanny cakes

Yvonne was known for her beautifully refined diction, and this led to her becoming the voice behind speaking newsletters for the blind in her home area of Wandsworth.  She had a full social life, and enjoyed organising events for the many clubs she belonged to.

The day was rounded off by raising a glass at a nearby pub, sharing memories and indulging in a wonderful feast, suitably completed with Nanny Cakes!

She will be missed. RIP Yvonne.

 

The bloke from the council is poorly

Steve Evans

The man who inspires me and many others is poorly.  Not that you would know it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this amazing man is entering the final phase of his journey.

Back in August I wrote about Steve Evans, how I first came across this inspiring guy, who has been fighting the fight against the Big C, and, despite a few setbacks, winning each round on points!  A seemingly ordinary kind of bloke, now retired from the Council, loves fishing, part time entertainer and magician.  I followed him on Twitter, got chatting with him about our common chemotherapy experiences (those chemo pins and needles reach the places they shouldn’t normally reach!), and I was honoured to be invited to join Steve’s extended Facebook family and friends.

One of Steve’s targets through his recent treatment was to attend the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) convention in Buxton as compere, early in September.  Steve achieved his goal, and went down a storm by all accounts.  A couple of days later Steve was honoured with the coveted Associate of the Inner Magic Circle (AIMC) with a Silver Star award.

Shortly after the convention, Steve fell ill and was taken to hospital.  Friends waited anxiously for news of his condition.  We heard from his daughters, through Twitter and Facebook, that Steve’s condition had deteriorated, to the point where his tumour had grown and was bleeding, and the location of the tumour meant that he couldn’t eat.  Steve was very poorly indeed, and he readily admits that he thought his journey was about to reach its final destination.

But within a few days Steve’s condition had improved, the ‘genius of the NHS’, as Steve describes those dedicated people treating him, had managed to stop the bleeding, which in turn had allowed him to start eating again.  As he gained some strength, he received a visit from Richard Bacon, with whom Steve has become good friends, and he agreed to give an interview, recorded for Richard’s BBC Radio 5 Live show.  The link to that interview is here.  It’s a tough listen, but the words and the emotion explain everything; who Steve is, and what he is about.

This weekend, Steve appeared on the BBC Breakfast show, to discuss the story of the  extension of the Cancer Drugs Fund to 2016.  This is a very important development for cancer sufferers, and Steve explains here what it meant for him, or as he puts it “I simply stayed alive!”  He also tells us where he is on his journey at this time.

Knowing that he had been pretty poorly in hospital, and wasn’t able to eat for many days, I was concerned at how he might appear on the TV, but actually he looked amazing and was as chipper as ever!  As he says, he is relaxed and at peace with his condition, and will  enjoy a “better quality of life for as long as it is.”

His positivity shines through and he looks good on it!

Steve, you are truly an inspiration.  And I look forward to seeing you more in your new career as a TV personality!

Steve Evans

Steve Evans on Twitter @steveevans51

 

 

The inspiration that is Steve Evans

Richard and Steve

Richard and Steve

I first heard Steve Evans speak on the radio, talking to Richard Bacon on BBC Radio Five Live. As I work part time (allegedly – another story!) I often leave for home at around 2pm, when Richard’s fabulous show starts.  I can’t remember how long ago this was, but I do remember being mesmerised and full of admiration for this straight talking, funny guy with the Brummie accent. Actually, Steve hails from Wolverhampton so I’m not sure if I might be insulting him by labeling him a Brummie!

You see, Steve was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer some months back and given just a short time to live.  Naturally devastating news to anyone, and Steve is no exception.  But what Steve did, and continues to do with that crushing piece of information, is turn it into a positive, in as much as Steve has used his natural charm and humour to not only cope with his own situation, but also campaign for better drug treatments for cancer sufferers.  Working with “The Prof” as he calls his oncologist, Steve has been receiving drug therapy normally used for treating other cancers, but has had to fight hard to receive it.  That, and the continued rounds of chemotherapy and checkups has meant that Steve’s tumour is being kept at bay.  Clearly, without his tenacity, fight and positive outlook, Steve wouldn’t be here today.

But I am so pleased that he is.  Not only is his fight helping many other cancer sufferers and survivors, but his easy going and hilarious personality has allowed us all to benefit.  Steve is now a regular feature on Richard Bacon’s show, popping up from time to time for the weekly moan-in, where callers are asked to express their moans and receive points for humour and creativity.  The winner with the most points is crowned the Moana Lisa! Hilarious!

Steve has also joined Twitter as @steveevans51, which is where I and many others keep up to date with his life and his fight.  Steve’s Twitter followers, over 700 of us now, follow his progress and offer support on Chemo Days as well as hearing about his fishing exploits!  But it’s not all plain sailing for Steve, and while we all admire him for his upbeat and cheery nature, as he recently reminded us, “being terminally ill is shit”.

As someone who has survived cancer, I can’t really know what it must feel like to be in Steve’s position.  But on my dark days, and we all have them, I can only imagine.

Steve being Steve then apologised “sorry for sharing a down moment”.  There is never a need to apologise for being human, even if he is superhuman!

Steve is an inspiration to many, and long may it continue.