A man who sadly lost his 44-year-old wife to a rare type of cancer last year is walking 150 miles from Birmingham to London in memory of his wife Michelle and to support all suffering from Sarcoma.
Dean Horwood, from Rickmansworth, will walk along the canals Grand Union, Paddington and Regents canals using towpaths and camping along the way.
All donations will go to Sarcoma UK, who fund research, campaign for better treatments, and have a support line for all affected by Sarcoma.
After Michelle’s diagnosis, Dean found himself in a dark place mentally, now he wants to raise funds for others that need support.
Dean told RickyNews: “It unknowingly started to destroy me too. Having someone you love so deeply, known to be so tough and resilient, have such fear, breaks your heart. No matter how level headed you are, it hits really really hard”
Michelle tragically passed away in September 2020, after a two-and-a-half-year battle with a rare subtype of cancer, Pleomorphic Sarcoma.
Dean described Michelle as: “Beautiful, elegant and amazing. She did an amazing job bringing up her two sons Josh and Drew, they are both terrific young men. Michelle was a tough, strong, independent woman and that’s why I loved her so much.”
Michelle’s Sarcoma journey began on a morning in May 2018, when she felt pain in the back of her leg and noticed a small lump behind her left knee. A scan revealed that a tumour was growing and wrapping around the nerve running down her leg.
Dean said: “There was panic in my heart and tears in my eyes. The memory of losing my father to cancer brought straight to the forefront of my mind. That was the start of a two and a half year journey of extreme pain, fear, worry, operations and chemotherapy.
“Along her journey, Michelle astounded doctors, friends, family and most of all me. Her courage, bravery and inspirational determination to try and win over her cancer was profound in every single way.”
Michelle received six weeks of radiotherapy but the cancer was aggressive and continued to grow. In December 2018, an x-ray showed the cancer had spread to her lungs.
Dean said: “We simply asked, how do we cure it? We just assumed we had another fight on our hands and would win it. Her oncologist told us there was no cure.
“Metastasis Sarcoma deep in the lungs was terminal and that was that. She had seven lung tumours at that point. All they could do was try to extend her life as much as possible with Chemotherapy.
“Right there I made a choice I had never felt so sure of in my 38 years of life before or since. I looked at Michelle, one person out of a 7.5 billion who I’d fallen in love with, and I asked her to marry me. I told her that no matter what happens from now on, only death will separate us and even then only physically.
“At that moment there was no cancer, no fear, no worry about anything. Just that overwhelming feeling of love. And that ladies and gentlemen, is what will always overcome adversity.”
From April 2019, Michelle underwent chemotherapy. One month later Michelle was admitted to Luton and Dunstable Hospital with neutropenic sepsis.
Dean added: “If she was awake she was laughing, she was determined, she was not giving up. Five weeks later I wheeled her out of there to take her home. Michelle had beaten the infections and had a 74% reduction in tumour size
“We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary at home as we had locked down early due to COVID. It was an anniversary neither of us expected so any situation was perfect.”
In 2020, the pain from Michelle’s leg tumour had worsened and she had her leg amputated, which gave her a new lease of life for a short time. Before Michelle passed, the pair fulfilled a bucket list dream to take the dogs to the beach in Norfolk.
Dean said: “She taught me so many valuable lessons during our time together. She never failed to amaze me. Her mind was the strongest, most beautiful mind I had encountered.
“It got very dark for me. The feeling of knowing you are losing someone you love. My constant struggle to be strong and to care for her with no breaks. I would be driving home from seeing family or friends and think, I could just drive in front of that lorry and end it all.
“It was killing me watching the love of my life suffer so much. Missing her boys. The whole journey with cancer is absolutely awful. It affects everyone, not just the patient.”
In memory of Michelle, Dean and his friend Jack will walk 150 miles from Birmingham to London starting on 6 May 2021. Dean has created a Facebook group called ‘The Sarcoma 150 – support the walk’ to provide updates.
Click here to donate to Dean’s Sarcoma UK fundraiser.