A Berkhamsted woman living with incurable cancer was invited to the opening of Myeloma UK’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.
Green-fingered Fiona Smyth attributed her lower back pain to her gardening exploits, but when the pain spread to her ribs in 2016, she informed her GP and was diagnosed with myeloma.
By the time her incurable blood cancer was caught, she had fractures in the lower part of her spine and lesions in her ribs. Though she can no longer lift heavy objects, she has learned to pace herself and continues to enjoy working in her garden.
Fiona said: “I love the physicality of working with the soil – you’re doing honest work. I love the design element and creating vistas. I also love taming the garden. It’s that feeling of control, I suppose.
“Gardening is about using my diagnosis as a positive means of growth. I look at it as reframing. You had this idea of what you were going to do with your life and, all of a sudden, you have to change it. It’s not the path you had thought you were going to go on. It’s just a different life, it’s not less than.”
On May 22, Fiona joined famed gardener Chris Beardshaw in opening Myeloma UK’s entry to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, which went on to win a gold medal.
The garden was a gift from Project Giving Back, a scheme launched during the pandemic to champion worthy causes and turn the spotlight on the invaluable work of a select few charities.
Photo credit: Myeloma UK