“I’ve been healthy all my life … so it was a big shock to be told that I have leukaemia. It came just two months after my husband, Bob, died of a rare cancer, back in 2016. Since then, I’ve had several trips to hospital for chemotherapy, and I was in remission for 18 months. But now I’m having chemo tablets and injections, and my doctor says that I have nine months to live, at the most.”
“So, I have written out my eulogy and I’ve chosen all the hymns. I have the list of Bible readings. Bob didn’t write out a list. He stayed well until the last few months. And in the last week, we set up a hospital bed in the living room, and I slept nearby on the sofa bed, and all the kids came and helped. We were all there at the end. He died one night at 9pm, after we’d been married for 50 years.
“But I remember at the end, I asked Bob what he wanted in his funeral service and he didn’t want to talk about it. He probably thought that I would work it out. But I’m different from him. I’ve planned my whole service. You never know how much time you have left.
“In 2016, I had a routine blood test. My doctor rang me afterwards to see if I was all right. ‘I’m fine,’ I said. Then she told me that my white cell count was down and I needed to have another blood test. So I had another blood test, and then she sent me to a haematologist, who did more tests.
“After those tests, I was at the supermarket, helping with a food collection drive [with our local church] and I walked home. When I got home I noticed a police wagon waiting outside our house. Two police officers got out and they walked across the garden towards me, and they said, ‘You need to go straight to the hospital.’
“It was a bit of a shock. I think my doctor had been trying to contact me, but she couldn’t find me so she sent the police around. Maybe she was worried that I’d collapsed on the floor. I was in a bit of a tizz, so I rang a friend who took me down to the hospital. They said that I had leukaemia and it proved to be incurable. On the whole, I haven’t been too sick. But they now say there’s nothing more they can do.
“The thing is … Bob’s already there [in heaven] and I’m happy to join him. I’m really looking forward to heaven. I became a Christian in my late teens and I’ve always been involved in the church. I can’t imagine what heaven will be like exactly, but I often think about it. I know that I won’t have to have any more chemo injections! So I’ve planned my funeral service and I’ve written it all out in my blue book. At the moment, I’m hoping that my funeral will be after the lockdown. I want as many people there as possible, singing!
“And I’d like them to read John 14:1-7 – ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms … And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me …’
“Jesus is going to come back and take us to be with him. Won’t that be wonderful?”
Gwen’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.