I am Hannah’s sister. It was agreed before she died that I would write her final blog and I never imagined it would be as hard as it is to put the reality into words, which is why it has taken so long so my sincerest apologies go to anybody who was following Hannah’s journey and waiting for news.
In Hannah’s last blog she was in India waiting for Ioannis to arrive and was feeling very weak but deeply spiritual. It was around this time that she sent her last ever text to me and it was along similar lines- that she had found faith, was letting go of her anger and embracing peace and simplicity. Ioannis did arrive with her safely and we are all so glad that he did because by this time she had deteriorated dramatically. He has told me that she was too weak to even lift a drink up by herself. A few days later Ioannis contacted us to tell us that her condition was worsening to the point that she needed to be hospitalised, which sent us into a blind panic. How could we pay for her hospital fees? How would we get her home if she died out there? What if we never got the chance to see her again and tell her how much we loved her? The next day the doctors at Soukya had made the decision to stabilise her as well as they could and get her on a flight home. It was like time stopped, waiting to hear that they had left the resort, then they were on the first flight, all ok at the connection in Dubai and then…the news that she had made it home. While the relief was overwhelming, so was the news of her condition. She was taken immediately to hospital and after some very quick assessments they found that she was severely dehydrated and was immediately put on a drip.
That night our Mum stayed with her, watching her breathing and willing her to make it through the night. By the next morning they had pumped an astonishing amount of fluid into her, I think around 9 litres but my memory is hazy, and she had perked up a little bit. It was just under 2 weeks from then until she died. Her closest friends and family visited as often as possible but she could barely speak or keep her eyes open so it was more an opportunity to say goodbye than anything else. The hospital put her in a private room with a spare bed so Mum could stay with her, Ioannis was there every day bringing food and showering her with love and Robert, (our step-dad), was there also.
I managed to visit her twice. I would have done anything to be there more but living in Suffolk with a 10 month old baby made it very difficult. The last time I saw Hannah was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cried for most of the visit because I knew it would be the last time I saw her and sat just holding her hand for over 3 and a half hours. I felt rooted to the spot when it was time to leave because saying goodbye was too hard. It still is too hard. She was still convinced she would get better and come home and told me, “I’ll be home in a few days, I can come over to yours for a bath and we’ll watch some DVD’s.” When I left I had some of her lip balm on my face where she had kissed me and I didn’t want anything to brush it away for hours after.
That was Saturday 3rd May and by the Monday she was in so much pain that she agreed to be heavily medicated. In the early hours of Tuesday morning she let go, Mum and Ioannis holding her hands and Robert there too.
Hannah was absolutely one of a kind and I cannot express what she meant to me. She was my big sister, always there. When I was little I was afraid of her, (she could be pretty intimidating), as a teenager I idolised her and as an adult she became my best friend. Although we went for long periods without speaking at times I loved her to my very core.
Hannah was an extreme person in every sense. She was either breathtakingly generous or completely selfish, absolutely in love with you or hated everything about you. If she had a hobby she had to have every piece of memorabilia associated with it. This made her a very addictive person to be around and also made her very successful in business. It made her wonderful. The problem was, she expected everyone around her to be the same and if you weren’t 100% with her then you were against her and this lead to a lot of conflict in her life.
Whilst being one of the toughest people you could ever meet, she was also the most vulnerable, shy and fragile. If Hannah gave you her heart you had to be very careful with it because it was easily hurt. She spent most of her life looking for love in the wrong places and building bigger walls for herself along the way. Her insecurities could make her very difficult and selfish but if you really knew her and understood her then you knew it wasn’t coming from a bad place, just a much bruised heart. In the end she was different though. Faced with death, she let go of her demons and became a much more peaceful and gentle person and for all who loved her this was a lovely thing to see, in spite of the circumstances. She found true peace and true love.
It’s almost impossible to believe she is really gone and certainly too painful. Her clothes still smell of her, her thoughts still speak to me from the pages of dozens of notebooks and the memory of our last hug is still so fresh that it just can’t be true.
It’s worth noting that although Hannah made her own choices, those of us close to her feel strongly that she was misguided when it came to the treatment of her cancer. Anybody who is faced with cancer should always make their own decisions but be very aware that there are many people willing to take your money and tell you they can cure you. Or people who will fill your head with tales about how they cured themselves “naturally.”Hannah fell prey to several of these people and as a result stopped her chemotherapy. Wishful thinking has never and will never cure cancer.
Our thanks go to Ioannis for bringing her home in the nick of time and giving us the chance to show her our love and say goodbye, and for loving her to the bitter end. Gratitude also goes to the staff at the UCLH who were amazing and couldn’t have done more to help.
My own thoughts will always be with our mum who has lost a child, a pain I cannot comprehend.
Finally, my own goodbye…
There is a song by Newton Faulkner called, “So Much,” that I listened to a lot after she died. The whole song expresses how I feel perfectly but there are a couple of lines that encapsulate it:
“I owe you so much, I hope you knew that
There’s so much of you in everything I do
I just wish that you were still around.”
I miss you so much sis. I always will and a piece of my heart is missing forever. I hope that you are sleeping peacefully and that we will meet again one day. I love you always, my sister and my friend.