Huddersfield-born Nadio Granata is a chef turned marketing, PR and publishing guru who now lives on a house boat on the Thames. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He’s charted his cancer journey to help others with a warts and all blog. Nadio has been given the all-clear and thought he had written his final blog but a close friend, Mandy Taylor, lost her own battle against cancer and Nadio wanted to pay a tribute to this remarkable charity fundraiser who touched so many lives.
In my last blog, I announced boldly that it was my last one. I was wrong. I have a postscript which I feel is important to say, as much as it hurts to do so.
So. I wrote the blog to give me something to look back on to remind me of the sh** I’d been through. My very own catharsis chapter of melancholic self-pity. An excuse for future failings perhaps.
But also to push home the fact that cancer is curable. A cancer diagnosis really does not have to be a death sentence and we need to rejoice in the significant success rate of so many who go on to live a full and healthy life.
And that mantra worked wonders for me. It kept me focused, determined and hopeful even when the chips were down. Stage 3 throat cancer is no walk in the park. The treatment is tough but success rates are relatively high and its legacy is limited. I was well prepared for what I was going to go through … and I was rarely shocked or doubted a positive outcome.
Sadly, last week, my very good friend, confidante and cancer partner, passed away.
Mandy Taylor, nee Barwick, passed away in the arms of her loving husband after suffering a short final stage of cancer following three previous attacks of the disease.
In the end, her passing was swift and merciful, although many of us did not get to say our goodbyes.
I was diagnosed with Covid on the day she went into Kirkwood Hospice and that removed any hopes I had to see her before she died.
We did speak on the phone and exchanged messages, in which she, typically, told me to “get well soon.”
Then, two days later, she had gone. And so, a cancer diagnosis can, in some cases, indeed be a death sentence.
For those of us who have survived, certainly in my case, I feel guilty. Mandy had a kind soul, was a beautiful person and dedicated herself to others. It seems so wrong that she has gone and not me.
But. It’s not a competition. And Mandy would not wish it any other way.
And so. The postscript is this: #bemoremandy and the world will be a far better place
Mandy Taylor RIP
The following is shared with permission from Andrew:
Mandy, soup and me
I turned on the music and lost myself in so many lyrics that remind me of what it was … still is … to be Mandy.
Ballerina… the way you hold your head when you dance. Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer …
Teacher … sit me down and tell me what I need to know … sing me a song Mr Piano Man
Sister … guide me through the darkness so I may stumble but never fall
Wife … a beautiful companion and a best friend for when you get old
Friend … to so many near and far. Oh baby baby it’s a wild world …
The songs keep on coming as do the memories. The joy. The fun. The laughter. And, of course, the glitter and feathers!
Every pause in the sentence, each look up to the clouds… a new thought collides with the others like asteroids in the sky. You were so much to so many.
I’ve remembered our very last conversation and it went something like this:
I’m out walking along the Thames towards Kew village. Phone ringing, it’s Mandy.
Me: Hi darling, how are you?
Mandy: Oh, not brill if I’m honest.
Me: Oh no. What’s the matter?
Mandy: Well, don’t tell anyone, but they’ve found shadows on my lungs.
Me: Oh. That sounds bad. Is it?
Mandy: Yes. It’s basically the worse news. It means it’s spread.
Me: Do you know how long you’ve got?
Mandy: No. But it’s weeks, not months or years darling.
Me: Oh f***. That’s sh**. I’m off to buy some soup. Take care. Love you.
Mandy: (Laughing) Yes. You too.
Me: (Crying) You too. Bye xx
She always had a way of normalising tragic. If anyone reading this is ever passing Chiswick Marina, do pop in and have some soup with me. Mandy would like that. I would too.
At first the words wouldn’t flow but now they have and I’d also like to share my poem to Mandy.
Goodbye to you my amazing friend,
I’m so, so sorry I wasn’t with you in the end.
For all those times we laughed, kissed and hugged,
I can only be eternally grateful … though they didn’t last as long as we hoped they would.
It goes without saying you brought joy to us all.
From walking across those hot coals together for charity to the glitziest of balls.
A Charity Angel in all our lives and now a huge void we will try to disguise.
We walked some cobbled paths together, took in the autumn leaves, bracken and fields of heather.
We climbed up high to the Golcar Lily pub and looked in awe at the surrounding hills and stunningly beautiful Colne Valley.
We stood in front of many thousands on that stage in St George’s Square, you with the mic in your hand whilst the crowd watched and stared.
There were the Monotones, Razorbach and Highway 62,
we saw Boo Sutcliffe, JB Goode and of course Storm too.
And when it mattered, we often shared secrets but never lied. We laughed like little children and yes, there were many times we cried.
Few you will have met will not cherish something special about you Mandy.
Your sense of right from wrong, the grace with which you went about your business and that reassuring look in the face of a lost cause, but now you too are gone.
Yes. We were lucky. It is far better to have known but lost you, than to have never known you at all.
- Before she died Mandy launched the #BeMoreMandy fundraising campaign and a series of events will take place next year. To donate go to https://localgiving.org/appeal/BeMoreMandy/