In our thoughts
Matt Bates was 26, and diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer in the summer of 2014. Matt underwent surgery and nivolumab treatment on the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS). Matt decided to set up his website to share experiences, raise awareness and start writing again after leaving a career in local journalism, and focus on his recovery. Sadly, Matt died in November 2016.
This is the last entry in his blog from his wife, Gemma; to read more about Matt’s experiences and treatment, please click on the following link: Matt Bates.
So those of you that have been following Matts blog, you already know that he has been at Myton Hospice in Warwick and we sadly had to say our last goodbye to him on Friday. But we managed to make some amazing memories during Matts stay at the Hospice, which seems strange to say but Matt was able to see the final print of his CD, which he had worked so hard to create. And we fulfilled one of our dreams. Matt did make a little hint at the end of his last blog that we were planning something, but didn’t want to give anything away.
I will start from the beginning, well a few weeks ago. When Matt was referred to Myton Hospice they sent over one of the Hospice doctors to talk about what it would be like and what they could do for Matt. She explained that he should challenge them. If Matt wanted anything all he needed to do was ask…. “even weddings”
Little did we know that some of the amazing nurses of the Mary Ward at Warwick Hospital, who Matt had been sharing our engagement story with had a meeting with the Hospice doctor and suggested that a wedding would be something we would love to do.
And it was…
Rewind a few weeks, to Coventry Hospital just after Matts spinal surgery. We had the pleasure of meeting two amazing Macmillan Nurses who Matt has already named and shamed on a previous blog. They talked to us about different charities we could use to enjoy a day out or a weekend trip away and also a charity who provide weddings for couples like us who didn’t have all the time in the world.
When Matt came home from Coventry Hospital we started to go through the application process and we were so excited that the possibility of getting married was becoming a reality. Which was then suddenly taken away from us when Matt got rushed into hospital and we were given the news we so desperately didn’t want. So to be given that hope again was truly amazing. We were not going to let it go!
After the doctor from Myton Hospice had left (I didn’t know this at the time) Louise, Matt’s Mum was on the phone to the jewellers where Matt had got my engagement ring from asking them how quickly we could get rings sorted.
When Matt told me a wedding could again be a possibility I was over the moon, which seems so strange in this situation, but it brought us hope and a positive focus. When we got engaged over a year ago, we started to plan and write down our perfect wedding and since then we have had our ups and downs and it was something that had to be put aside while we focused on getting Matt better. This new focus meant we had something to look forward to and Matt had something to aim for. It brought a wave of happiness over us and our families.
Since then I have been a woman on a mission and realised that you only need a few days, maybe a week to plan a wedding. Not too sure what brides to be do for months, even years when they are planning a wedding. I have been amazed by the generosity and willingness to help that I came across when I started this challenge. Each and every business I approached listened to my brief and between the tears heard our story of why I needed things done so quickly. They all said “It can be done, don’t worry.
I managed to arrange things over the phone or via e-mail as I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Matt. But it wouldn’t be mine and Matts wedding without doing it the hard way, or having to change the way we did it. Because over the past two years, our hardest years, we have realised we haven’t done things the easy way. I guess I should have realised that from the beginning, when we decided to start going out the month Matt was due to start University in Brighton (4 hours away).
On Thursday (the day before our planned wedding) we decided, after discussing with the doctors that we should do the legal marriage that night, so we could have a shorter ceremony the next day, as Matt was getting tired easily. We rounded up our families and had a beautiful ceremony in ‘The Sanctuary’ at Myton Hospice and we became Husband and Wife a day earlier than we expected.
After our engagement we started to save, a proud moment as we counted our £500. Plus a few coppers and foreign coins, I’m still trying to find out who put those in.
The morning of what would have been our wedding celebration, Matt wasn’t doing well and it was clear that Matt had kept fighting so that we could get married. I knew Matt was desperate to see me in my wedding dress. I got changed behind the curtain and revealed myself to him, even though he was so poorly he still found the words to make us laugh. When he saw me, he held his chest and said ‘God, that’s not good for your health.’ It made us all laugh and the look of sheer joy that was on his face, is something I am never ever going to forget. As I was in my dress we exchanged our rings and the Hospice Chaplin blessed the rings.
In Matts eyes we were officially married, he was happy and his life was complete.