Celebrating life and sharing the legacy

The last few weeks have been particularly tough for me mentally. After more than 6 years on my ‘bumpy journey,’ I have seen so many heart breaking situations, many personal, but plenty from friends and colleagues. I have often thought that I have experienced so much in the cancer environment, that there surely can’t be anything left that can shock me and pull on my heart strings. But there always is!!

Ironically, my personal health has been the steadiest it has been for some time. The good weather has finally arrived, and the constant threat of colds, flu and chest infections, has subsided for the time being. My maintenance treatment is keeping me mobile, and I am slowly peeping back into the real world again, although with caution, I might add!

Due to my commercial background, I consider myself to be in the ‘cancer business.’ It also feels like a business, because it is what I spend a lot of time on. As with any business, there are certain things that will always be part of your work. Unfortunately, in this environment, death is very much a part of what we do. Nobody wants that, but it is a fact. Given that this is the case, we must expect to deal with it.

How we deal with things when someone ‘passes,’ is unique. We will all have had different relationships with that person. Some of us will be closer than others, family and friends, then colleagues etc. There are no rules how we say goodbye, we all do it in our own way. Interestingly, now days, most ceremonies, have a religious basis, but things are even changing here. People are starting to personalise things, to reflect the wishes of the individual.

Yesterday, I was celebrating the life of an incredible young lady. I was fortunate to be a friend and colleague, and my personal experience of a stem-cell transplant was helping her through her own set of unique circumstances. In her young life she touched so many people, with her boundless energy, warmth, and enthusiasm. Even though she was going through her own personal trauma, she would be campaigning or fund raising for cancer charities.

In reality, she only lived, half an average life, but the things that she managed to achieve in such a short time, were probably more than most of us could manage in a lifetime. Her impact cut across generations, and there was such a mixed community to celebrate her life together. We were all recalling our favourite moments, of which there were many.

But this is not where the story ends,nor should it. Her legacy will live on! She has done so much campaigning in the cancer field, that you won’t have to look too far, to find a video or a magazine article written or presented by her. The impact she had on others was incredible. She certainly helped improve lives, whilst she was able to, and I’m sure that so many new lives will be positively changed in the future, by her work in the past.

I guess that when most of us think about the word legacy, it involves finance. For example, what we might leave for our children when we die. Since my life has been affected by cancer, my thoughts turned to my own legacy. I have been extremely lucky and have managed a few extra years beyond expectation. This has allowed me to put certain things in place which can hopefully continue, beyond my own life time.I am also trying to play my own small part in improving the lives of people affected by cancer in the future.

I am celebrating the lives of my friends who have died recently. They have had a massive impact in my own life and work, and will continue to. I know that their legacy will live on long into the future, and that their families are very proud of what they were able to do. I am so grateful, to have been a small part of their life too.

This post is dedicated to Bengu Shail, and her family. Thank you for being my friend, and for the legacy you have left us. A brilliant example of Bengu in action can be seen in this video please take a few moments to check it out.


  1. Hi Chris

    I’m glad we had a chance to talk on Friday and sorry if I didn’t remember you from past Macmillan days. I’ll be hoping the good health streak continues for you.

    Brilliant post. I think you’re right: Bengu’s accomplishments and personality will leave quite a legacy. Some of us were telling ourselves to start asking the question ‘What would Bengu do?’ when future challenges come along.

    I’ll keep visiting.

    All the best,

  2. Hi Craig

    I am also glad that we managed to spend some time together. You did a wonderful job in presenting the award, and I know how much that award meant to Bengu and her family.

    Bengu will have had such an influence on our lives, and that is why I wrote about the legacy of it. Without doubt our lives have been enriched by meeting and knowing Bengu.

    Very pleased we know each other, and as I said at the time, if there is any way I can help you or your team in the future, either physically or through the blog, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Many thanks for your comments, Chris

  3. Thanks for the many subjects on which you write about. They are so relevant and applicable to me also. Sometimes, when reading about other people’s battles with the Big C, it makes mine pale into insignificance. I am Grateful for the “extension” that my doctors have given me…but sometimes being a survivor can be a Tough battle also. I wish you good health Chris.

  4. Hi Scarlett

    Thanks so much for your comments, and am so pleased you are enjoying the blog. One thing I have learned since all this, is that there is no hierarchy in problems. Your big problem is still big to you, whatever others are going through.

    I also am grateful for the ‘extension’ to my life as it has meant that I have been able to use this experience in a positive way.

    My experience has shown me that there are so many issues that occur, which are common to many cancers, so I am confident this blog will be of interest to most people affected by cancer.

    It can certainly be tough at times, and I find that my writing helps me. Good luck with your health too, Scarlett, and I look forward to seeing you back on the blog. Thank you! Chris

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