Last week my hubby and I returned from the most wonderful weekend spent at a beautiful little cottage in Devon courtesy of the amazing Willow Foundation. The charity works with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable ‘Special Days’.
I’d heard about the Willow Foundation via social media and thought what a fantastic idea it is to be able to give those living with life-threatening illnesses a special day treat. Having read the stories of others who enjoyed special days I decided to give it a go and apply. You fill out an application form providing medical details and put ideas of what you’d like to do for your special day. I said I’d either like to spend a weekend at a cottage with a log fire and a hot tub with my hubby, go out for a night out at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London or go for a trip in a VW campervan.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do, but I really just wanted to do something special with the man in my life who has been so amazing and supportive and who has held me up over the last year. My husband has supported me through all my operations and treatment, being positive, keeping me in good spirits and always telling me how beautiful I am when I’ve felt so hideous inside and out! He’s juggled working full time, taking me to and from endless hospital appointments, caring for me, cleaning, cooking and being my rock – I could not have got this far without him.
The lovely Practice Nurse who had been regularly changing my Picc line dressings at my local doctor’s surgery signed my form and I popped it off in the post. I had almost forgotten all about it until I received a phone call from a lady at Willow to let me know my application had been granted!! We decided a weekend away in a cottage would be an amazing treat and Liz (my ‘Special Day Maker’) set about organising it for us. I was so ecstatic and grateful that they’d granted my wish. It was lovely for us to have something to look forward to when my treatment had finished and for us to be able to enjoy ourselves and try and forget about the world of cancer.
We found a really lovely romantic cottage located in North Devon. As it was a popular destination they were already booked up quite far in advance, but there was a date free in March so Liz booked in our weekend for us.
I finished my radiotherapy treatment in January, and having recently just returned to work in February, it was so nice to have something to look forward to in the coming weeks. Just before the weekend arrived I received my Special Day pack. This contained all the details of our trip and booking confirmations – they even included a taste card and had printed off maps and directions for us!
We were so excited about our trip and as the date finally arrived we set off for our weekend away. We were absolutely delighted when we arrived at ‘honeymoon cottage’. For the next three days our home was an 18th century thatched cottage in a picturesque little rural village in Devon surrounded by rolling green hills.
The cottage had so much character and charm with its original features, ancient wood beams and inglenook fireplace. It was beautifully decorated and had a wood burning stove, a huge free standing copper bath big enough for two, a hot tub in the garden and all manor of gadgets and a Bose surround system that was playing out music in every room. There was even a fresh loaf of bread that had been baked for us upon our arrival!
We spent our weekend eating delicious food, relaxing by the fire, drinking champagne in the hot tub, roaming around the area and generally having an amazing time together. The weekend was a welcome break and it gave us the chance to relax, reconnect and create some very special memories.
Being diagnosed with and treated for cancer is a truly terrifying experience and the path I have been walking this last year has been fraught with worry, fear, stress, pain and anxiety. I have had amazing support from my family and friends who I can’t thank enough. After all the months of surgeries, treatments and being in and out of hospital so much it finally feels like life has returned to some sort of normality at last.
We are so grateful for our weekend away and I would like to sincerely thank Willow for their generosity and kindness in granting me my Special Day.
If you are aged 16-40 and are currently undergoing treatment for a life-threatening illness you can apply for a Special Day here.