Brave Derbyshire mum shares story of her late husband's cancer battle and life as a young widow

A young widow has shared the story of her husband’s long battle with cancer on the first anniversary of his death.

By Gay Bolton
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 1:23 pm

Andrew Greaves was just 44 when he died in March 2021, leaving his wife Kimberley, daughter Caileigh and son Jayden.

Kimberley said: "Everyone remembers Andrew as a strong, very capable man who was 6ft, worked a lot outdoors, did manual labour. He ended up in a wheelchair, very fragile, very weak and that was not how he would like to be remembered.

"Twelve months along, I don't want Andrew to be forgotten. I want his legacy to live on. Getting the story on the web means one day my children can read and really understand the journey that their dad had been on and it saves the conversation or questions that they may have in later life."

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Kimberley and Andrew Greaves had been together since she was 17 and he was 18.

The 45-year-old mum tells of Andrew's three and a half year battle with bladder cancer, from his diagnosis to the care he received at Ashgate Hospice, in a poignant blog on the hospice's website.

She said: "I want to give back to the hospice. It's my ultimate goal to create more volume and more traffic to the website. It's also about raising awareness and being able to spot the symptoms of bladder cancer.

"Writing the blog has helped massively and a lot of the content I wrote within a couple of weeks of Andrew dying. I sat in bed and found myself typing and writing over a couple of evenings until the early hours. It was very therapeutic writing everything down. Some of what I wrote then became his eulogy."

Kimberley has also shared her experiences as a young widow in a podcast which the hospice is releasing.

She said: "My daughter had just turned 13 when her dad passed away so I don't feel like we're just dealing with teenage angst, we've got the grief to deal with. My little boy has become very clingy and he doesn't like to be very far away from me.

"For me, it's about having to be strong for the children. We talk about Andrew every single day, we've got the photos all round the house, he's always there.”

Kimberley and Andrew, who married in 2005, had lived on Herriot Drive, Chesterfield, for more than 14 years, moving into the house on Andrew's 30th birthday.

Three months after Andrew passed away, Kimberley, Caileigh and Jayden moved to a new home in Hasland. Kimberley said: "It’s a new-build house that we looked at about four or five months before Andrew died. A lot of the time we were trying to create things to look forward to, knowing that he was going through what he was. Even in the hospice we talked about it and he said 'Go for the house move, do it.'"I thought it was going to be very emotional and really hard to leave the old house but in order to make things easier I decided to rent it out. It meant that people weren't coming into the house with the intention of buying it because that would have been upsetting and because I was moving into a new-build property it meant there was no chain.

"Part of this was thinking about the children and wanting to secure their future financially because they've gone from two parents to one parent.

"The house move was very positive for us. It completely surprised me. I've absolutely loved living here. Even in this new house I feel that Andrew is here - he's still very much part of every single day.

"We can't change what happened, we can only go forwards.

On the anniversary of Andrew's death, the family went to Alton Towers. Kimberley said: "For me it was not about sitting down and lighting a candle and remembering. It was very much about the children and letting them have a good time and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

"When Jayden turned eight in September I got him a party limousine for his friends for his birthday. The reason for that was that he was excited for the funeral limo; I thought that's not going to be the only limousine you drive in this year. He absolutely loved the party limo, it was a lot of fun and a great birthday for him in the year that his dad died."

KImberley, who is a senior transport officer for Derbyshire County Council, said: “I’ve had incredible support from family and friends.

"When I looked back in the early part of this year at the same time last year when he was very ill, I found myself in a place where I was glad to be a year on from what I was experiencing at that time and for Andrew not to experience what he went through. It was cruel, it was traumatic, he didn't deserve it - it felt like a long death."

Life without Andrew continues to be a journey for Kimberley. She said: “The last 12 months have been very much about me figuring out my identity because I was with Andrew from when I was 17 and he was 18, so we'd been together our whole adult lives.”

Read Kimberley’s six-part blog, a new section of which is published every Saturday, at www.ashgatehospice.org.uk

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