Golf day family fundraiser
Juliet has hosted four golf days to support Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital staff - a team that gave husband Stuart four more years with his wife and their two children.
Stuart Burns’ family was shocked when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, but Juliet will forever be grateful for the treatment he received under the Guy’s and St Thomas’ team. Their care and support is what made her want to give back.
Stuart Burns was an otherwise fit and healthy 44-year-old when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The only change in him had been how tired he’d been feeling. Just walking to the train station for his usual morning commute would exhaust him so much he’d have to sit down on arrival.
Juliet says: ‘It was odd, but we just thought he had a virus’.
But a blood test and an X-ray revealed the worst: kidney cancer. It was a big tumour that had been likely growing undetected for a few years.
There is not yet a cure for kidney cancer once it has spread around the body, so Stuart’s best chance to beat his cancer was surgery. Stuart’s tumour was sizeable but seemed to be contained, so the team at Guy’s Hospital operated on him within the week. The operation was a success, but the cancer didn't give up easily. A progress scan months later showed the cancer had spread to his lungs.
Despite the lack of cure, the oncology department set to work finding the right medication for Stuart to help slow the growth of his cancer.
‘The team was so supportive, and we could phone or email them at any time to ask questions,’ Juliet says.
‘The treatment was second-to-none’.
They’d always ask after the couple’s two girls, Ella and Sophie, too. Juliet recalls: ‘They felt more like friends.’
The oncology team’s ability to keep finding new drugs that would work for Stuart meant he could maximise his time with Juliet and his two daughters and continue playing his beloved golf.
‘Stuart loved to go golfing every Saturday,’ says Juliet ‘We couldn’t get him off the course!’
‘The side effects of Stuart’s drugs left his feet blistered at times and his oncologist would tell him not to play when they were like that, but he couldn’t help himself,’ says Juliet.
‘Nothing was going to stop him playing golf with his friends.'
Sadly in 2015, aged 48, Stuart lost his battle.
‘Guy’s gave him four extra years with his two children which he wouldn’t have had otherwise,’ Juliet says.
Which is why she wanted to give back. So, when a friend of Stuart’s suggested a golf day in his memory, she decided to make it a fundraiser. She thought, what better way to remember Stuart than all his friends and family coming together to play golf?
Everyone chipped in £55 to play a round at the local golf club, and afterwards enjoyed a meal and charity auction.
‘I decided it should be on his birthday to keep me and the girls busy and celebrate it in a positive way,’ Juliet says.
‘It brought everybody who knew and loved Stuart, his friends, family and colleagues, together to remember him.’
‘It was a fitting tribute.’
The girls, who are now 19 and 21, even went out on the golf buggies selling refreshments to raise extra cash.
Juliet has now held four golf days and raised £6700 for Guy’s and St Thomas’.
‘The auction afterwards really highlights everyone’s generosity,’ says Juliet.
Coutts Bank in London, where the couple met and worked most of their lives, always donates a Michelin Star lunch as an auction prize, whilst those bidding on the prizes are keen to contribute as much as they can.
Juliet was due to host the fifth event this year but has had to postpone it due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She says: ‘I feel like I can’t repay the hospital enough for what they did for us as a family.’
‘I plan to continue hosting events in Stuart’s memory, and I hope the funds help with research at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals.
But for Juliet, the fundraising is also about how it makes everyone feel.
‘It’s great that it brings everyone from different parts of Stuart’s life together.
‘I know Stuart would’ve loved it’.
If you want to give back to Guy’s and St Thomas’ like Juliet, find out more about fundraising below.