Raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Michael
I lost my husband Michael in February 2016 at the age of only 35. He was a wonderful, kind and interesting man, and a true individual. He had a great range of interests, but above all he loved music and had wide and eclectic (but exceptional!) taste, which he loved to share. He was one of life's enthusiasts who chose to be happy and make the most of every day, and it is simply impossible to think of Michael without smiling.
In January 2014, our world was turned upside down when Michael was rushed to hospital after having a seizure and following a number of scans we were given the devastating news that he had a brain tumour. We had no warning signs as Michael was otherwise entirely fit and healthy with no other symptoms. We were a week away from buying our first house together, but had to pull out of the sale while Michael underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible.
Michael was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma. After his initial surgery, he underwent 6 weeks of radiotherapy, but sadly this treatment was not successful and the tumour began to regrow. In January 2015 Michael went through a second round of surgery, this time followed by chemotherapy - starting with PCV and later changing to Temozolomide when PCV proved ineffective. For a few months it seemed as though the treatment was working, but he began to deteriorate at the end of 2015 and was rushed into hospital with an extreme headache at the beginning of January 2016. An MRI scan showed that the tumour had returned and was bigger than it had ever been before, and there was nothing more that could be done. Due to the size of the tumour and the swelling it was causing he was unlikely to survive the night, but he responded well to steroids and was up and about again the next day. We came home from hospital and were told he would likely have 4 to 6 weeks. He died at home 7 weeks later on 23 February 2016, just a few weeks after his 35th birthday.
The bravery and courage Michael showed throughout his illness was truly inspirational, and I am so proud of my incredible husband. Michael and I were completely in love and his illness only brought us closer. Together we tried to enjoy every moment and carry on living as normal a life as possible. He still made me a cup of tea every morning, sang and danced wherever he went, lit up a room and made everyone around him laugh at every opportunity. He faced each new treatment with a spring in his step, refusing to let his illness define him or to believe any reality other than that he would get better and live out our dreams together. To watch Michael face each day with such positivity and strength of character, and then be told there was nothing more we could do to save him, was simply devastating.
Since losing Michael, I began to read more about brain tumours and survival statistics and I was horrified to see how underfunded research into brain tumours is, and how little progress has been made in improving prognosis. I read so many stories of other bright young people just like my Michael whose lives were cut short, and of other families devastated by the loss of their loved ones who had set up supporter groups to keep their memory alive and to keep fighting, and suddenly I felt less alone.
I want there to be a future where no more lives are lost to this cruel disease, and so I am committing to fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity through The Michael Barry Fund in the hope that there might one day be a cure. I am completely lost without him, but I know he wouldn't want me to give up, and to keep living positively for both of us. Setting up this fund to try and help others facing the same fight is a huge part of that, and something I know Michael would have completely supported.
I have been incredibly touched by all of the wonderful tributes to Michael since we lost him, and the common theme is always that our lives are richer for having Michael in them as he was the kind of guy who brought people together, made every moment more special and brought out the best in all of us. I hope this fund will be a way for everyone who knew and loved Michael to unite in his legacy and keep his bright spirit alive.