Here at Magenta, we’ve always been proud of our contributions to charity. But these contributions aren’t just business wide – our team are full of the giving spirit too.
Lana, the manager of our St Albans location, is running the London Marathon to raise money for Sarcoma UK after losing her best friend Hayley to the disease. Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that is rarely curable and Sarcoma UK is currently the only charity that focuses on this type of cancer.
Read a few words from Lana and find out how to donate below.
Trigger warning: Some of the below may be unsettling. This blog post contains medical details, mentions of cancer, severe illness and death.
I am running the London Marathon in memory of my beautiful best friend Hayley. I am running to raise money and awareness for Sarcoma UK. Sarcoma is the awful cancer that took my best friend at just the age of 30.
Sarcoma is rare, aggressive and receives no government funding, so they rely on people like me to raise some money.
Now let me tell you a bit about Hayley’s Story.
In October 2020. Hayley hadn’t felt well and had bad tummy aches. She knew something was wrong and she couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment like many of us because of COVID-19. So, Hayley turned up to her doctor’s surgery and demanded an appointment.
Right away they gave her options of what it could be, cancer being one of them.
She rang me to tell me, and she said:
‘Lana I just know it’s cancer, I just know it is’.
I was thinking to myself ‘no way is it cancer’. She’s just doing what we all do and thinking the worst.
Well…it was cancer. They originally diagnosed her with kidney cancer, and she had a life changing operation to remove her kidney and save her. Except the cancer spread. They removed her kidney, small bowel, part of her intestines and the main artery of her heart.
She spent quite a bit of time in hospital. She suffered real pain and discomfort in her leg, and she was told it was just a trapped nerve.
Jumping forward in the story by a couple of months, Hayley started chemotherapy just to be safe. She was told by the nurses they are treating her like she is cancer free. This gave her so much hope that she was going to be just fine.
Hayley had aggressive chemotherapy and lost her hair quite soon. But my god was she the most beautiful bald lady I had ever laid my eyes on.
However, it later turned out she wasn’t cancer free at all. That pain in her leg turned out to be a huge tumour. It was Sarcoma Cancer she had. Not kidney cancer. It was the 1 cancer she said to me ‘As long as I don’t have Sarcoma, I’m in for a fighting chance’
Hayley for the first time was scared and thought she might not make this. But I thought of course she’s going to beat this. How can she not? That is an impossible outcome.
She then contracted septicaemia and spent 2 weeks in hospital mostly alone because of COVID although her mum would sneak in from time to time and get kicked out.
Hayley called me in good spirits, and here is how the conversation went:
Hayley: When I’m all better can go on a really extravagant holiday?
Lana: Of course Hayley babes, we can go anywhere in the world you want to go.
Hayley: Ok good. Can we go to Florida? I’ve been planning our route and itinerary all day!
This was just classic Hayley.
And then the very next morning is where everyone’s lives came crashing down.
Hayley was laying there alone in her hospital bed. The doctors came in and said the cancer is in your lungs…. you are terminal with a couple of months left. She was alone!! She called her mum to get to the hospital. Then she called me. Looking back my reaction was probably selfish and not what Hayley needed in that time. I sobbed and told her how am I meant to do life without her? I can’t live without you Hayley. We spent 10 minutes uncontrollably crying and telling each other how much we loved each other.
See, mine and Hayley’s relationship was pretty special. We met because we camped next to each other at a festival back in 2012. And we have been joined at the hip ever since. We could tell each other anything and everything in the world with no judgement. We would be the first person we would go to when stuff got bad and then automatically we would cheer each other up because we did not stop laughing. Every single holiday was spent together. We called ourselves soul mates from the moment we met. I wish I could show you all what an amazing double act we were.
They offered Hayley chemo to extend her life. But it meant she would need to stay in hospital for 5 days every 3 weeks and isolate because of COVID. It meant she would have lived her last days practically alone. So, she refused it and said I want to live my last days with everyone I love. If it wasn’t for COVID things could have been so very different in her story.
So, Hayley was uncontrollable for 3 days and then in true Hayley fashion she said right enough is enough let’s get on with it. And then what followed will stay with me forever. We spent some of our very best times together and continued to laugh till the very end.
Almost immediately Hayley went on a holiday with her family travelling the most beautiful places in a camper van in Scotland
First a 30th birthday was planned for Hayley. Hayley explained the party as her birthday, baby shower and wedding all wrapped into 1. It was the most magical day where she was surrounded by the people she adored the most.
Hayley then took me to Crazy Bear on her 30th birthday, where we shared such beautiful moments together.
We then went to our final festival (socially distanced), where Hayley’s favourite DJ was playing and heard of her story and offered her the free tickets and the best seats in the house. She was treated like royalty.
Hayley crammed in as much as she could, but the tumour in her leg was getting too painful. She couldn’t get up and down the stairs anymore. She had a hospital bed put in her room.
Her room was beautiful. While Hayley was in Scotland with her family, her family decorated and had a balcony put in her room. She got to lay in her hospital bed staring out at her beautiful garden and looked at the stars and moon every night.
One day she turned and said to me ‘Larn, can you be here when I die? I don’t think I can do this without you and my family’ Then I practically moved in. I didn’t want to leave her side for a minute. Me and Hayley’s mum, Linda, stayed in that room as much as we could. We slept in Hayley’s double bed and Hayley stayed in her hospital bed at the foot of the bed.
The mornings were the worst. Hayley would always wake up in agonising pain. The district nurse would come about 10am – 11am to give her all the medicines they could. Every minute felt like an hour leading up to the nurse getting there.
The mornings of her being in pain quickly turned to nearly constant pain during the night and near enough every 2 hours.
Me and Linda worked like a well-oiled machine looking after our most cherished girl. Although I take no credit for that: Linda was in auto pilot. She knew exactly how to look after her daughter, and I just followed her lead.
Although Hayley suffered more than a lot of nurses had ever seen, her bedroom was not a sad one. Between Hayley’s pain, we laughed, rarely did we cry, and we just had the most beautiful moments. She always had friends come and visit near enough every day and the room was just so alive and thank God it was. She needed that!
However, the end was coming. You could tell. She would say to us ‘I just want to die’ because the pain was insufferable. In the end we wanted her to go. Which looking back is the most messed up wish, I would never ever wish for anyone to die let alone Hayley but at that time I cannot express to you how much pain she was in. We didn’t want her to suffer any more. No one should die suffering. She would say ‘animals get better treatment that this’ and she was right. Nurses and paramedics agreed. What certainly didn’t help was the budget cuts. There was only 1 district nurse working the whole of Northampton. If there was more, she would have certainly not suffered as much as they nurses could have been there as soon as we called. Because towards the end, we called our nurses a lot to help her with the pain.
Trigger warning: the following section includes graphic medical details of severe illness and death.
Hayley’s death rattle had begun. The nurses prescribed medicine to help the fluid on her lungs. Except the whole of Northampton did not have the prescription in stock. So, the warning the nurse gave us? Hayley might choke and drown to death in the fluid from her lungs, and it will not be nice. Now having to face with her imminent death being traumatic for Hayley on top of everything else. It still makes me sick to this day.
The night before Hayley left us, me and Linda were sat either side of Hayley’s bed having a beer like we would most nights. Hayley was pretty out of it at this point, but we would always talk to her. Sometimes she would try to reply but because of the prescription we couldn’t get it was very hard to hear her.
Me and Linda were planning a trip away. And I said to Hayley, ‘can you hear us Hayley, would you like us to go away together?’, and she attempted to nod and say yes. She put her hands up to hold both of our hands. Which was lovely because Hayley got irritated towards the end and wouldn’t like too much touching. And she looked at me and said, ‘Best friend, we are so lucky, look after my mummy’. This is a sentence I will cherish for the rest of my life.
So, the evening of the 4th of July came. Hayley’s brother had just gone to bed, and everyone was saying their goodnights. As I was saying goodnight to Hayley’s cousin, I heard Hayley miss a breath. And then it was go go go. Everyone rushed into Hayley’s room, and beside her was her dad. Stroking her head and kissing her head. Her brother was saying ‘You’re the best sister in the world’ Her gran and cousin were telling her how much they loved them. I was telling her to come back and see me. And her mum was singing her lullabies until she went to sleep at 21:21. After all the pain and suffering Hayley went through Hayley fell asleep so peacefully surrounded by the people she needed and wanted there. She got to go the way deserved. She fell asleep with her eyes open and with a very soft smile on her face.
The immediate feeling was relief. She wasn’t in any pain anymore.
But then as every day continued, life got insufferable. We felt relief at the time, but this should have never had happened. I’m angry? Why her? Everything happens for a reason, doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t. What is the reason? My biggest saving graces. Hayley’s family and especially her mum. I couldn’t have got through any of this without them.
Hayley said we can grieve for a year but then go out and live your life otherwise it would be a slap in the face to hers.
So, what better way to live our lives than to run a marathon? Hayley lost the use of her legs, and we have ours so what better way to honour her and raise some money and awareness.
If you have managed to read on for this long thank you! There is so much more I could have told you about Hayley’s story. But I’m not sure how I could have cut it down because her story is important.
So, Linda (Hayley’s lovely mum), Jade (Hayley’s other best friend) and I will be running the London marathon, we will get our little crisp-loving legs past that finishing line whatever it takes.
WSTRN even made a song for Hayley. All proceeds go to our fundraiser so please give it a listen and download.
I really would be so grateful for any support at all.
– Lana Meakin, St Albans store manager.
Support Lana by donating to her JustGiving page.
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