Young widow’s support for rare cancer charity

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A young widow who lost her husband to a rare form of cancer is organising a family fundraiser to raise awareness of the disease and support a charity that helps people affected by it.

Lucy Rattenberry, aged 28, lost her husband Tom, also aged 28, in February, just 15 months after he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).

The young couple, who fell in love in a whirlwind summer holiday romance in 2009 and bought their home in Steeple Claydon in March 2010, had been married for just five months when Tom died.

Now the house has been sold and Lucy, who works for Thames Valley Police, plans to move back to the Bicester area to be nearer to her parents, Rose and Nigel Thorne, and her sisters Emma and Melanie.

“Without my family and my very close friends, I don’t think I’d be quite where I am,” she said. “Tom has just left a massive hole in all of our hearts.”

Tom, an engineer, was plagued by mystery stomach and back pains throughout 2011. Lucy said: “I watched him deteriorate so much that one night he came home and literally fell through the front door on his hands and knees.

“I marched him into the GP and demanded they send him for more investigations.”

After a fortnight of tests, the dreaded news was delivered on November 4, 2011.

The main tumour in Tom’s pancreas had spread through the lymph nodes into his stomach and though his liver.

“We’d just started life together and there it was, over before it began,” said Lucy.

“We were both petrified.”

Tom was referred to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where he had three courses of chemotherapy and then radiotherapy.

The couple got married in August 2012, having been advised by the hospital to bring their wedding plans forward. “It was such an emotional day for everyone,” said Lucy. “Saying those vows, ‘in sickness and in health’, was tough on us both but no couple could have meant it more.”

After the wedding, Tom was in and out of hospital constantly. He was finally admitted to the Churchill on January 12 and died on February 1.

“The post mortem report showed he had NETs in almost every organ in his body,” said Lucy.

More than 250 people attended Tom’s funeral at Oxford Crematorium and more than £1,000 was raised for the NET Patient Foundation, which provides support to anyone affected by NETs.

Helped by her family, Lucy is now throwing her energy into organising a family fun bingo evening at St Edburg’s Church Hall in Bicester to raise money for the charity.

The event takes place on Saturday, January 18. Doors open at 6.30pm with eyes down at 7.30pm. There will be a raffle with some impressive prizes, including a SMEG dishwaher, a family photoshoot and tickets for family days out.