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Abseiling in memory of a husband and dad

04.05.16 Categories: Cancer Centre Appeal, Supporter stories

Image: Salena and Tony

Salena Mulhere is abseiling down both St Thomas’ Hospital and our brand new Guy’s Cancer Centre to raise money for Guy’s and St Thomas’. Salena is taking on these challenges in memory of her husband Tony, who sadly passed away of cancer, and because she wants to say thank you for the wonderful care Tony received from across the Trust over the past year.

In March 2015, Tony was referred to Guy’s by their local hospital after fracturing his hip. Clinicians discovered a very advanced cancer that had already spread to his bones and lungs, making it very difficult to treat.

Tony underwent extremely complicated surgery and had one of his kidneys removed in April 2015. He was just 42.

Operating against the odds

Salena says, ‘We had been told that most hospitals and surgeons wouldn't have operated given how complicated the procedure was, but world-class surgeon Tim O'Brien decided to operate.

‘It became pretty clear that if he hadn't, Tony wouldn't have had much time left at all. Mr O'Brien gave us the chance of further treatment and more time together.’

Salena was on maternity leave looking after their three-month-old baby daughter Caoimhe, so the care Tony received was particularly crucial to their family’s wellbeing.

After the surgery, Dr Sarah Rudman, Tony’s oncology consultant, and Linda Shephard, Urology Clinical Nurse Specialist, and all the other staff did everything they could to keep Tony alive and well for as long as possible.

Tony received treatment for a year until he sadly passed away in March.

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Staff making a difference

Salena says, ‘Tony’s oncology nurse, Linda Shephard, supported us from our very first day at Guy’s to our last, making sure that on that last day in particular Tony and I had the support we needed, and that Tony was as comfortable as possible, and well-cared for until the very end.

‘The way Linda managed Tony's care and supported us through all of our clinic appointments was amazing. If we had any concerns, she was always just a text or a phone call away.

‘We really felt lucky to have had such a wonderful supportive nurse doing all she could to help us. She made a huge difference to helping us to cope with the most challenging and terrifying time of our lives.’

Salena says ‘There really are so very many people across the Trust who worked together to care for Tony over the last year.

‘Tony and I both strongly felt that it was important to do what we could to say thank you, so that the staff would know just how fantastic they are, and to help ensure that all the brilliant services can continue to be provided for as many other people as possible.’ 

Image: Salena, Tony and their daughter, Caoimhe

Salena, Tony and their son Luke

Honouring Tony’s legacy

Salena and Tony together had watched Guy’s Cancer Centre under construction over the past year, and were looking forward to using the services when it opened. The idea of all the services being available in a single building particularly appealed to them.

They even discussed the idea of taking part in the Guy’s Cancer Centre abseil event, to fundraise for the centre. Tony supported Salena signing up, but she’d been hesitant to commit herself in case Tony turned out to be unwell on the day.

One of the first things that Salena did after Tony passed away was signing up for both the St Thomas’ Abseil and the Cancer Centre Abseil, which gave her something to focus on, and a way to honour Tony’s memory.

Salena and their son, Luke, will abseil down St Thomas’ together to raise money for urological cancer research at Guy’s. The Cancer Centre abseil is being held on the three month anniversary of Tony’s death on Saturday 4 June, and Salena will be abseiling with someone very special – Linda.

‘Linda is, as always, going above and beyond the call of duty for her patients by abseiling down the Cancer Centre too!’ says Salena.  

Tony and Salena’s children, family and friends will be there watching and supporting on both days, and have made many generous donations on their fundraising page

Supporting Guy’s and St Thomas’

Tony asked for donations at his funeral instead of flowers and on her birthday Salena asked for abseil sponsorship instead of presents. She also set up a ‘Someone Special’ page, where all fundraising will be pulled together to show just how much has been donated in total to Guy’s and St Thomas’ in honour of Tony.

You can support Salena, Luke and Linda in their challenge in memory of Tony by donating online.