A woman who lost both her son and daughter-in-law to cancer while suffering from the disease herself is holding a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK.
Luton Foodbank founder Joan Cartledge of Neville Road, Luton, is still reeling from the double tragedy – particularly as her son was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway without her consent.
The controversial end-of-life plan for terminally ill patients is currently being phased out.
Septuagenarian Joan said: “David went into the Moggerhanger hospice reluctantly. He wanted to die at home but was persuaded it would just be for a week, to get his medication sorted.
“I saw him on the Monday and when I went in on the Tuesday he was lying flat as a board on the bed. He never woke up.
“Just before he died on the Sunday he opened his eyes and looked at me.
“I didn’t know what was happening, there was no communication from the hospice at all. I went home and cried myself to sleep and to this day I can’t believe I just let it go.
“I only found out he was on the Pathway because I demanded to know what they’d said to him.”
The anger and distress are still with her a year later. She said: “We weren’t given the time to say our goodbyes. We’ve been through absolute hell.”
Joan’s daughter Lynn suggested organising a fundraiser to mark the first anniversary of David’s death.
It will be held at Luton’s Co-Op Club in Stockingstone Road from 7pm on Saturday, February 1.
Joan – a committed member of the Co-Op Women’s Guild – admitted it had helped her to focus on something positive.
The mother-of-three was diagnosed with oesophagal cancer in 2008 when David’s wife Jean was already in the final stages of lung cancer.
The couple had moved to Lanzerote in 1993 where they ran a popular bar called The British Bulldog.
Joan said: “David was really outgoing. He was a carpenter by trade but drifted into bar work and absolutely loved it.
“Jean was lovely too, an absolutely amazing person.
“We were ill at the same time.
“I hadn’t been well for a while but didn’t want to upset David because he was looking after Jean. When she died I couldn’t go to her funeral because I was having treatment.”
Joan said her son never got over his wife’s death: “He sold the business and came back to live here.
“Then he got cancer of the tongue. He had chemo and radiotherapy and was given the all clear. But it came back.”
David died in January last year, aged just 53.
Joan said: “There used to be a time when if you knew someone with cancer, that was a bad thing. Now everyone knows someone.”
She’s throwing herself heart and soul into the charity event which will have an auction, a raffle, name-the-teddy, tombola, a cake stall and lots more. Entry is free.
> Make a donation at www.justgiving/lynncartledge