My daughter Hannah met Steve back in November 2012, when they were both 19. They were introduced in the park through mutual friends, and hit it off straight away. Immediately they knew that they were going to be together.
He very quickly became part of the family. I remember early on thinking how it seemed like they’d been a couple forever. I said to my husband that I couldn’t imagine them apart. I think there is one person out there for us all, and they’d found each other.
A few weeks after they met, Steve was given the devastating news that he had Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (Head and Neck Cancer).
We were in shock. But we thought, ‘let’s not worry. He’s 19 years old, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he’s fit and healthy. He’s going to bounce back’.
Steve was referred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. He was in a week each month for his chemo, but not long after his diagnosis, when we so desperately needed some good news, he was told that the cancer had got into his blood.
Throughout everything: all his treatment, all the scary consultations, the bad news - Steve never stopped smiling. He never moaned, and made the effort to go into work whenever he could. They both stayed so positive the whole way through, and demonstrated a level of maturity that shouldn’t be required of two 19 year olds.
One night we were sat at home watching the telly, Steve was in having his treatment, and Hannah turned to me to ask if we could go and visit him. There aren’t restricted visiting hours on the unit, so we decided to go and surprise him. His face lit up when we walked in – I wish I’d had a camera to take a picture.
They had decided to get married, and we were busy organising the wedding for May 2016. Steve went for some results in November, six months before the wedding, and it wasn’t good news. He was told it was unlikely he was going to make it past Christmas. The decision was made that we should bring the wedding forward to the start of December, so we set about re-arranging everything with three weeks before the big day.
The wedding was beautiful. They had an intimate ceremony at Mallory Court Hotel in Warwickshire, and then a lively reception with 150 people in the evening. Hannah looked beautiful, her little sister Sophie was a bridesmaid and Steve wore a smile the whole day. By this point, he couldn’t eat anything and was very ill, but it didn’t stop him enjoying every moment.
They even took the opportunity to do some fundraising for Teenage Cancer Trust! There was a giant bottle with the Teenage Cancer Trust logo on, for guests to fill with money. Even on a day that was meant to be about him and Hannah, Steve was thinking about others, wanting to give back to the charity that had helped him.
Hannah never doubted her decision to stay with Steve throughout – to her, it wasn’t a decision. She loved Steve and she was going to do anything to support him.
On the 20 December 2015, just a fortnight after they were married, Steve passed away.
Hannah has always said there will never be another Steve, and she’s right. She’s keeping his memory alive through the amazing fundraising she’s doing – she even did a sponsored skydive! She’s visited the Teenage Cancer Trust unit where Steve was based a few times to drop off donations, and the nurses are always so welcoming.
Now it’s my turn to do something for Steve, and for this amazing cause.
I’m not a runner and I was never going to be the quickest, but I’ll be delighted to finish the whole route. I’m not sure what to expect but I’m sure it’s going to be incredibly emotional - I’ll be surprised if I’m not in tears the whole way! I’ve heard that along Tower Bridge the noise from the crowd is deafening, and seeing the rest of Team Legend proudly wearing their Teenage Cancer Trust running tops is going to be amazing.
To get yourself out on those cold rainy nights to do a 10 mile run, you have to be doing it for a special reason. I remember when Steve was staying at our family home, he thought I’d gone to work, and I saw him on his hands and knees, reaching to get an ice-pop from the freezer as that was all he could consume at that time and wasn’t able to stand. That memory of him is what keeps me going – if he got through everything with a smile on his face, I can do the London Marathon.