Anna’s Special Day story

Megs Wilson shares Anna’s story.

Little did we know then just how much our daughter would teach us in the 31 years that she lived. When she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26 she was able to draw on her experience as a Community Nursing Sister in North East Hertfordshire. She saw just what trauma could do to her patients and their families when serious illness arrived. So when it happened to her and was told that she had a malignant tumour, she took her family to one side and lectured us all. This thing would try and destroy not only her, but it would try to destroy us. We should not let it.

Instead she made sure that she always had something in her diary to look forward to – something planned; something that would take her out of the new normality that had become doctors’ surgeries, hospital appointments and treatment. We would plan shopping trips, concerts, football matches and parties, things that would make her happy – and if she was smiling, we were smiling.

Anna’s philosophy is the basis upon which Willow’s Special Day experiences were founded.

The very last month of Anna’s life was the catalyst for Willow. The BBC approached me to say they wanted to do Bob’s This is Your Life. It was at a difficult time as Anna was very poorly, the cancer having spread through her body. I turned them down but was finally persuaded by Anna that it should go ahead. On 1 November Bob was caught on the Arsenal training ground where he was coaching David Seaman. As Michael Aspel presented the book Bob turned around and told them he couldn’t do it as his daughter was too ill. At that moment his phone rang and it was Anna, “Dad, I’m ready to party!” she said. We had the most amazing day and night. Anna was able to enjoy every moment and be proud of the tribute her Dad was being given.

For ten days Anna was on a high and adrenalin was coursing round her body disguising the symptoms that normally made her feel so ill. Sadly one month after the programme Anna died and she instructed me to use what she learnt.

Now when we think of Anna, we think of her smiling. Of course we remember the roller coaster ride that living with cancer brings, but our memories are of a young woman who had all to live for; a loving husband, a close family and a successful career. She taught us that quality of life and quality of time is paramount and that often the planning and taking part in something pleasurable can create memories that last a lifetime.