39 year old Dan Knight lives in Leigh-on-Sea with his wife Sarah, and two daughters, Eloisa, 8 and Imogen, 6. Dan was a successful manager for a financial company in the city when he started experiencing symptoms including losing his peripheral vision, excruciating headaches, collapsing and sickness. He was later told he would have no more than two years to live.
Days before a big family holiday, Sarah arranged for Dan to see a private neurologist. Sarah, 41, said, “With my hand on my heart I told them I thought there was something seriously wrong, and I didn’t think he was fit for flying so the consultant agreed to do an MRI scan the next day.”
Later that afternoon having returned home, Sarah found numerous voicemails saying that Dan must not get on a plane because he had a brain tumour which was 6cm in diameter. At the end of an eight month course of chemotherapy, Dan’s scans showed he had another tumour on his brain. Further surgery wasn’t an option so Dan began another course of treatment which would prolong his life by stopping the tumour from growing.
Dan has been coming to Day Care at Fair Havens every Tuesday for respite since November 2015.
Dan had to travel back and forth to London for his treatment and used the commute to hand-write a book for his daughters. The book is filled with Dan’s memories of his life and theirs as a family. Sarah typed up Dan’s handwritten notes and had it printed with their favourite photos. It took them two years to complete.
“The kids were so little and we were worried they wouldn’t remember him; that was our biggest thing. For two or three years we went on holiday constantly, we went on every trip possible without getting on a plane, and made enormously happy memories.”
Sarah recently led a team of friends known as ‘The Dan Knight Warriors’ across the finish line of the Southend Half Marathon. You can read the story the Echo published here:
So far the team has raised over £2,000 for Havens Hospices.
Whilst Sarah was in training for the London Marathon, Dan would go out walking and would often past Fair Havens. On one of his walks, Dan went into the hospice to find out what it was about and followed it up with his Doctor who referred him for care.
“I just thought to myself, I’m terminally ill with cancer, I should have a look at this place. I’ve never been shy so I thought I’d walk in there and find out what they can do for me. What we’ve found at Fair Havens, just being there, has really helped. I know we are all going to face death but I like the way we are all fighting in some way, we all continue our own little fights and I like fighters. I like being there, I take the guitar from the Chapel and I make all the nurses sing songs. I think it’s all a really positive experience and I’m happy there.”
Sarah added, “I couldn’t cope anymore, I just couldn’t keep spinning all of these plates. For me, when Dan is at Fair Havens it’s a bit of respite. If Dan is in trouble or needs my help then I want to be there for him but at the same time I need time off from being ‘Sarah the Carer’ and I feel incredibly guilty for that, but I do. I do fear, what if? What if he has a seizure? What if he forgets where he is? He could wander off at any time but when he’s at the hospice I know where he’s at. I know he’s safe for that day.”
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