Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Rachel Wallis, 31, loses cancer battle
A GRIEVING husband from York today praised the care his wife received during a three-year battle with cancer.
Mike Wallis’s wife Rachel died aged 31, after a fight which saw her diagnosed for cancer three times. Since then Mike and family and friends have raised thousands of pounds for York Hospital’s Cancer Care Centre, where she was treated.
Mike said: “The Cancer Care Centre is an amazing facility, but it’s just four walls and some sofas. It is the people that really make it.”
The support of the centre’s administrators, Claire Thompson and Michelle Kirkman – whose posts are funded by York Against Cancer – helped both him and Rachel through their ordeal, he said.
Rachel is originally from St Andrews, and she and Mike moved to their home near Knavesmire when Mike started work at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency at FERA in Sand Hutton, while Rachel worked in medical writing.
She first fell ill in spring 2011, a month before she and Mike, 33, got married.
Mike said: “We decided not to tell anyone except Rachel’s parents, Alan and Bea, and her brothers, Alistair and Graeme, because we wanted the day to be the wedding, not the illness. It made the vows more poignant.”
She was treated successfully for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, only to be hit with more terrible news when she fell ill again with acute lymphoblastomic leukaemia.
“We don’t know why she got leukaemia. It’s possible it was related to her treatment for lymphoma – one of the side effects is a very small risk of that happening. Or it could be she was very unlucky.
“After eight months of treatment for the lymphoma we thought we had got over it, and it was time to move on. We had just started to rebuild our lives. It was devastating,” Mike said.
Rachel went through months of punishing treatment before she got the all clear again, but early this year a routine check up showed the cancer had come as acute myeloid leukaemia.
Treatment began again at York Hospital, but in October this year Rachel and Mike learned it was not working and doctors could do no more. She died last month.
Mike is full of praise for his wife’s courage.
“Rachel was an amazingly positive person. She just got on with things. She didn’t mope. She loved crafting and her room in hospital was piled high with things she was making.”
After the final treatment, Rachel knew her weak immune system meant contracting an infection would be dangerous for her, but carried on spending time with friends and family, Mike said.
“Rachel could have locked herself away at home, but she would have lost who she was. She didn’t let the illness decide how she lived,”
“She was an amazingly sociable. If we went to a party where we didn’t know anyone by the end of the night she’d be friends with everyone. She was genuinely interested in getting to know people. While her time was short she touched the lives of so many and we are all better people for knowing her.”
Mike has now set up an online giving page for York Against Cancer to let friends and family donate in Rachel’s memory, and has already raised more than £5,000.
“I still go to the centre now. In the week after Rachel died I think I went every day, and I wrote most of her eulogy there. If we can make a difference there that’s fantastic.”
To donate online, visit www.justgiving.com/RachelHWallis
Comments are closed on this article.