‘Life was negative and painful but we faced it together’ - Words of widow who married husband in hospital
- Credit: Jenna Harper
'Life was negative and painful but we faced it together' - those are the words of widow Jenna Harper, who married her husband Ian in hospital as he was dying from cancer.
Now Jenna, 38, from Fakenham, is giving thanks to Norfolk's cancer charity The Big C for the support they gave her and the couple's son Freddie during those dark days.
Ian was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2015. He faced the treatments, the hospitals, the sick days, the tiredness, the great days feeling better, the normal days, the remission, the tragic turn of events and everything else in between all with Jenna by his side.
Overnight, life changed for the pair, who were self-employed and ran The Bull in Fakenham. Not only were they facing these sudden physical and emotional struggles but they still needed to pay the bills Big C was able to provide help and support on how best to manage their situation and their circumstances.
Jenna said: 'We really appreciated both the emotional support and the practical help too. No one tells you about these things, there are no manuals out there. I'm not sure how we would have coped otherwise.'
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Ian underwent several types of chemotherapy, endured stem cell harvesting, further chemotherapy and later, a stem cell transplant. By the end of February, Ian had managed to get through a very demanding and challenging amount of treatments and by April he was in remission.
However, within 8 weeks he went back to the doctors after feeling very unwell. By mid-June the cancer had returned. He had more chemotherapy but it was back with vengeance. On June 23 he was told there was nothing else the hospital could do for the time being - it was a waiting game. He was given a 20pc chance of survival.
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Jenna said: 'But by the end of the month of June all our nightmares were realised. We were told the cancer had returned and there was nothing that could be done after all the treatment he had endured. For the cancer to return with so much gusto was such a shock for us both.'
Ian and Jenna were married on the Mulbarton Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on June 24, 2016 flanked by their son, family and friends. Once Ian was stable the couple left the hospital to return home.
They enjoyed just over three weeks of honeymoon at their home.
Shortly before Ian died, the couple had to sit their little boy down and tell him what was going to happen, that one day soon it was very likely daddy would die. Jenna said: 'Nobody should have to have that conversation with their child. But despite everything, Ian never gave up, he just kept going.
'We honestly wouldn't have known where to begin. Nothing prepares you for this. We'd had chats with the ladies at the Big C Centre and they wanted to help in any way they could. They also supported our little boy whilst Ian was having his treatments, which enabled us to speak to Freddie about what was happening.
'Life was negative and painful, but we faced it together and we realised no matter what life throws at you, the world continues to turn and indeed life does go on.'
On July 20, 2016 Ian died. Jenna said: 'My husband is an inspiration to me, to our son, to our family and friends and to those strangers who never met him and only heard some of our story. Ian laughed and smiled in the face of adversity and will forever be an absolute hero for our son Freddie, he was a relentless pillar of strength and positivity.'
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