Claire on reaching out

Claire and David walk their dogs in the park holding hands
Claire and David walk their dogs in the park holding hands

Claire’s friends were brilliant when she was diagnosed with mouth and neck cancer, though she did have one friend who distanced herself from her. She remembers how they went out of their way to keep her spirits high, including helping her to organise fundraising events.

Claire's story

I went out with my friends; we used to go out on a Thursday night, meet up in the pub and have a drink. And the first week I went to the bar, I didn’t like the way I was looking. I’m quite fortunate that I have a head shape that was okay for being bald, so I wasn't wearing a wig. And I went to the bar and when I turned around to go back, all my friends were sat there with bald caps on. Just to make me feel a bit more normal, if you like. That was really good fun. They made me laugh.

One friend brought me a hot water bottle, because it’s getting cooler now. There’s a mystery club in the village that keeps dropping my tapes off every week. And I know who they are. Or at least I have my suspicions. But yeah, all my friends were fantastic.

In 2013 I organised a ball. It was a Wedding Wishes ball because once I got married I always thought about how I’d love to wear my wedding dress again. And I thought, if I had one wish, it would be to wear my wedding dress again. So I had a ball and invited my friends and guests. Lots of them wore their wedding dresses again if they could find them, or if they still fitted.

I raised over 11 and a half thousand pounds, which was phenomenal really.

The committee of friends I put together to organise the ball also suggested that we do the Calendar Girls style calendar. And everybody agreed to it, amazingly. Our friend who’s a photographer said she’d do it. We took over somebody’s house and got some pictures taken. And somehow we managed to get a printer and graphic designers to help put it together. And it was sold.

One friend in particular did really distance herself from me. And it was a while until I thought, oh, you know, she’s not texted me. I didn’t really think about it up until that point, so I texted her and just said, you know, I’ve been thinking, you know you’ve not been in touch. And I think it must be really hard for you and I’m wondering if you don’t know what to say to me and how to act around me. But rest assured, you’re still my friend and we can talk about it, or we don’t have to talk about it; we can do what we want. If you want to ask me about it, that’s fine; and if you don’t, that’s fine as well. And she replied and said that I’d hit the nail on the head. We’ve been fine ever since.

Sadly, Claire died in February 2015. We'd like to thank her family for allowing us to continue sharing her story, so others can benefit from Macmillan's support.

Watch: all about Claire's experiences