Book created from 170 notebooks filled by man with cancer when he lost his voice
PUBLISHED: 16:29 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 01 February 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
More than 170 notebooks filled by a man who lost his voice due to cancer have been turned into a book documenting his life and death.
Father-of-one Mark Griffith was just 48 when he died in August 2014, having battled the disease for two years.
But throughout his journey he wrote his life story, as well as his thoughts and feelings about his cancer, which have now been released to raise money for the Norwich unit who cared for him.
Mr Griffith, who lived in Norwich, worked at County Hall before his death, but prior to that had travelled to countries such as Sudan, Siberia, and Albania as a diplomat with the Foreign Office.
He was described by his sister Karen Griffith, who lives in Thorpe St Andrew, as “very humble”.
She said: “He just liked people, and he was the best listener ever, and that’s what I miss most about him, he was the most patient man.”
She said even when he was in hospital for months on end he cheered other patients up - and was determined to see the funny side of whatever trials he was going through.
“One example was he had to sign something in Priscilla Bacon Lodge, something to do with a do not resuscitate agreement, and he said to the nurse he would only sign it if she gave him a kiss. She did, and he said ‘it’s the kiss of death’.”
And she added: “He had quite a varied life, and he could talk for England. So when he had a tracheostomy and could not talk, he wrote instead.”
Wanting her son’s words to be heard and fulfil a promise to him, Mr Griffith’s mother Sheila poured through the notebooks to bring his words to life.
Miss Griffith, a building society manager, said: “It’s all his words except for sections where mum has added bits. It’s taken about a year for my mum to do it - and we didn’t feel ready to do it for a while - and she worked with a good friend of Mark’s who also works for the council.
“Obviously when he was diagnosed it was a real shock, but he just always said ‘don’t worry, it will be alright’’. None of us had had cancer, we didn’t know what to expect and although the care he got was amazing it was traumatic, particularly when he changed a lot, he became unrecognisable.
“For us as a family it’s so important because I was also diagnosed with cancer last year as well, and I’m 49. Thankfully after a hysterectomy I’m okay, but I think for my parents it was really hard, no one expects to bury their child and I think my mum and dad would have swapped with him any day. Mark was no age at all, but he always used to say he had lived two lives in one because he crammed in everything he wanted.”
Along with Miss Griffith, and parents Brian and Sheila, Mr Giffith left his son Noel, 7, who was described as “a chip off the old block”.
Miss Griffith added Mark would be “so proud” to know others would be helped through releasing the book, which will raise money for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) Oncology Fund.
Mr and Mrs Griffith will be selling the book, called ‘... and Now I Just Cannot Laugh Anymore’ at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital tomorrow (Friday) from 2pm ahead of World Cancer Day on Sunday. It is also available on Amazon.