Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Always With Me

This is probably going to be the hardest thing I'll ever had to write. Today is going to be about one of my friends I met on Ward 78. I know words or pictures could never do her justice but I'll give it my best.

Beth Fitzpatrick loved to sing, dance and act. She loved Wicked!, Legally Blonde and any other musical you could think of! By the age of 14 she had performed on stage numerous times, had performed in the West End. She was 14 when she was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called Neurodocrine carcinoma which is normally only found in adults. It was in her pancreas, stomach lymph nodes and liver. She began her chemotherapy on Christmas Eve 2010.

Beth Fitzpatrick
October 2010.
I first heard of Beth when I was in for my chemotherapy on the 27th of December 2010. She was a new name on the board with all the patients in at the time on and I wondered who she was. Over the next few months she was to become my closest friend on the ward. I taught her and her Mum, Alison, as much as I could about being stuck on the ward. I let them know that you feel a lot better if you get up and get showered when you can and that getting into the dayroom was the best way to pass the time.

Because of where Beth's tumours where she was always a lot sicker than me, often throwing up and being unable to eat. I have to say I often felt sorry for her because she was younger than me and I wish it had been me that had been throwing up and unable to eat rather than her.

Beth's first scan results in January revealed that her tumours had stayed the same and the chemotherapy hadn't shrunk them, but they hadn't grown at all and the sickness which was being caused by the tumours in her stomach had lessened slightly.

She continued with chemotherapy and was very ill. She got many infections and needed blood transfusions. I helped as best I could, telling Beth and her Mum to ask the nurses to start them as early in the morning as possible so they can get home quicker, and showing them how to work out how much longer the blood would take to infuse. Waiting for blood or hydration to finish is the most boring waiting game you can imagine.

Beth's Mum, Alison (Left), Beth (Centre) and Beth's Dad, Ed (Right)
We also had many laughs on the ward, watching Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and laughing at some of their names! My Mum and Beth's Mum supported each other and me and Beth both knew when they'd been for a cry because they'd come back with red eyes and they would both still deny it! Our chemotherapy always seemed to be on at the same time every few weeks so she became one of my closest friends on the ward.

She was in with an infection when I started my high dose chemotherapy (at the beginning of March 2011) and she was very ill, being confined to an isolation room. She had scans on all her tumours in mid March.

Beth Fitzpatrick and Angela Griffin at the Ward 78 Official Opening
19th March 2011.
The ward was officially opened on Friday the 19th of March 2011. It had already been running for about 8 months but this was the official opening attended by the press. Both Beth and I got interviewed by the press and we both got our photos taken with Angela Griffin, who was opening the ward.

On Monday the 21st of March Beth received her scan results. They showed that her tumours had spread and her liver was starting to fail, causing her body to stop draining fluid. She was told that there was nothing they could do and that she was dying. They offered her surgery on her liver but there was a chance she would die during the operation and they also offered her more chemotherapy but she refused both. She'd had enough of hospitals and of being ill and decided to go home. 

Sometime the bravest thing to do isn't to fight on. Sometimes the bravest thing is knowing when to stop.

I remember sitting in room 8 and my Mum coming in crying. She told me that Beth was going home. I wasn't allowed out of my room because I had no defence against infections and Beth decided not to come see me because she was worried about upsetting me. I tried to get out my room to see her but I wasn't allowed because if I got an infection I would most likely die. Not leaving my isolation room to see Beth one last time will always be the biggest regret of my life.

Beth spent the next two weeks with her parents, listening to her favourite music and just being with her family. She slept a lot, but she wasn't in any pain.

On the evening of the 2nd of April, Beth said goodnight to her parents and told her she loved them, before going to sleep.

On Sunday the 3rd of April, Beth gave her Mum her card she had spent three hours making for her. She passed away that morning.

It was Mother's Day. 

Beth Fitzpatrick on Ward 78.
March 2011.
Not a day goes by where I don't think about you Beth. You've taught me to make the most of my life, to dance and sing as much as I can and to enjoy whatever I do. You've inspired me in everything I do and you've showed me the true meaning of bravery. You've taught me never to waste an opportunity and made me appreciate everything I have so much more. You'll always be in my heart.

RIP Beth Fitzpatrick. 

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