Julie Smith

We have chosen to set up this tribute fund in memory of 'our Julie'. This fund will enable us all to continue to donate and support St Elizabeth's Hospice (or "Lizzie's" as we like to call it) in the amazing and admirable work that they do caring for us, our loved ones and our families. It also allows us to keep track on what we have achieved, the donations received and any of our future challenges. So please join us in sharing any memories, thoughts, challenges, ideas or anything that you wish and help us give something back to "Lizzie's". Thank you, Bob, Hannah, Lucy and Emma xxx Julie’s story began June 1957 in Chadderton, Oldham where she was born in the family home becoming the third of five children for George and Mavis. She shared many happy memories of her childhood over the years of growing up with her siblings. In 1978 Julie met her ‘true love’ Bob whilst on holiday in Great Yarmouth with friends. Bob and Julie went on to marry at the church in Chadderton in September 1980 and began married life in Ipswich, later moving to Somersham. Family life began in 1983 when the first of three daughters Hannah was born, followed by Lucy in 1987 and Emma in 1990. Always so proud and full of life she gave them the happiest childhood that she had once had herself. After many happy years, Julie developed worrying symptoms. Following a colonoscopy of the bowel, life changed and the hurricane struck; on 18 June 2013 Julie was sadly diagnosed with Bowel Cancer at the Nuffield Private Hospital in Ipswich. Two days later of what seemed forever she returned for further scan results which revealed the cancer had aggressively spread further to her liver and at that point in time was inoperable. Along with her family she began her rollercoaster ride through her battle of this horrible disease. In the summer of 2013 Julie was given a glimpse of hope, she was selected for a clinical trial called FOXFIRE with the aim to shrink the tumours by inserting radio-active beads into the liver through the main artery in her leg. It took a lot of planning, and this combined with chemotherapy made her quite sick, although the procedure was successful sadly not all of the tumours responded. Julie coped well and continued with everyday life working and holding her head high. In October 2013, after many chemotherapy sessions Julie developed a large bowel obstruction in the sigmoid at the primary tumour site. Doctors believed this was due to the tumour responding to treatment and instead of just shrinking it became distorted and caused a blockage. Her family waited anxiously as she was rushed into emergency surgery for a hemi-colectomy in Ipswich Hospital. Several hours later the bowel tumour was successfully removed and a sense of relief kicked in, leaving what was left in the liver still to attack. After weeks of recovery and setbacks with an open wound Julie finally continued on her chemotherapy all of which varied and affected her life in different ways, some days she would have tingling fingers, other days blistered lips and then her hair began to slowly thin. After much thought and discussion with her husband and daughters it was time to face reality, Julie decided to try a wig and Bob made his first of many purchases throughout this journey. Daughter Lucy being a hairdresser cut and styled this beautiful wig to look like her own hair and most people never knew any different. Julie went on to continue chemotherapy reaching nearly thirty cycles, but there was always something at the back of her mind, could more be done? Her youngest daughter who works as a Diagnostic Radiographer alongside the rest of the family believed there was. Each time Julie was scanned she was told the tumours were stable in the liver but it still remained inoperable. Left confused and unsure Julie pursued a long and winding road into research of liver treatments. With the help of her daughter and support from all family members Julie went through five different hospitals both private and NHS seeking opinions on her condition and although it was puzzling it became clear at this point that she was outside of the guideline box and that something could possibly be done for a chance of survival. Knowing that the Liver is the only organ to regenerate itself, Julie and Bob took it upon themselves to search thoroughly for surgeons with the hope of Julie being accepted for a liver resection. She remained on chemotherapy and in early May 2015 there was some light at the end of the tunnel, she found Professor Lodge at the Spire Hospital in Leeds. After much discussion, scans and justification she was accepted for a liver resection. Weeks passed, she got her hospital bag ready, very anxious and nervous of the result she ploughed through and on the 13 May 2015 she went down for a long and complicated surgery where up to almost 80% of her liver was removed. After two long years of being close to giving up hope the operation was a success removing all of the cancer and surrounding tissue from the liver, like a warrior she began her road to recovery. Julie was coping very well after her surgery and adapted to things quickly, unfortunately around June time of 2015 she started to develop some hip pain on one side. After weeks of worry and worsening pain on 24 July 2015 Julie along with her family was told the devastating news that the cancer had returned in the bones, she commenced radiotherapy immediately (five consecutive days) with the aim to keep the disease at bay. Sadly she didn’t respond to the radiotherapy very well, she was taken into hospital mid October 2015 to which they discovered she had developed a hip fracture from the tumours weakening the bone. The aim was to replace the hip with the hope that Julie may be able to walk again, however she became very confused and unlike her usual self. The doctors sent her for a brain scan with the devastating result that the tumours had spread to her brain and the end of life team was called. In those last weeks, Julie never gave up fight; she smiled, ate her food and squeezed her family’s hands tight each time they were at her bed side. There was nothing else anybody could do the worst news to anyone’s ears, hope was fading fast. After being very well looked after on Needham and Martlesham Ward at Ipswich Hospital Julie was moved to St Elizabeth Hospice and made comfortable in her final days. On 01 November 2015 Julie sadly passed away leaving her family devastated and empty with lots of questions unanswered as to why this horrible disease struck their family. Julie is at peace now and there is some comfort in knowing that she, Bob and the family did everything they possibly could to fight her battle. A strong, courageous and brave lady will be forever remembered as an amazing wife, mum and nanna.

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