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'My beautiful bubbly Wendy was so brave'

PUBLISHED: 07:45 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 18:32 10 March 2010

DJ Nick Risby with his wife Wendy

DJ Nick Risby with his wife Wendy

RADIO personality Nick Risby has paid tribute to his beautiful and vivacious wife who has lost her long and courageous battle with cancer.

Wendy Risby

RADIO personality Nick Risby has paid tribute to his beautiful and vivacious wife who has lost her long and courageous battle with cancer.

Mother-of-two Wendy Risby died peacefully at Ipswich Hospital on Thursday following a second fight against cancer. She was just 47.

Her heartbroken husband, BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Nick, has paid a moving tribute to his wife's bravery and has told of how she repeatedly refused to accept defeat, even during her final days.

“She was vivacious, bubbly and inspirational. She was a bottle of champagne,” he said.

“Whenever Wendy walked into a room everyone knew Wendy had walked into the room. She was such a lively person.

“She was one of life's givers really with such a huge heart.

“Anything that could go wrong went wrong but she still fought it. She refused to accept it was going to get the better of her. She was a huge inspiration.”

Mrs Risby, who formerly worked as an advertising executive in radio and at the EADT, discovered a lump in her breast in the summer of 2003 when she was aged 43. She was diagnosed as suffering from primary breast cancer.

But even from the moment of her diagnosis, her husband said her fighting spirit shone through.

“The day she had the biopsy was the same day as my son's school sports day and she ran and won the mum's race! That's the sort of person she was,” he said.

“At the time, they didn't think the cancer had travelled. She said: “It's not going to beat me”.

Mrs Risby, a mother to Lucy, 15, and Jackson, 10, received both chemotherapy and radiotherapy because the cancer was considered an aggressive type. The lump was also removed.

“They decided to throw everything at her. She wanted everything,” said Mr Risby, 48.

“Nothing was going to stop her. She always said she would beat it.”

After a successful course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Mrs Risby continued a normal life in remission.

But in the autumn of 2006, she began to feel unwell again and thought she may have had a chest infection.

It did not get any better and so in November 2006, she went to have an X-ray.

“Our GP phoned that same evening to say they had the results from the X-ray and could we make an appointment as soon as possible. We knew then something was amiss,” said Mr Risby, who presents an evening radio show across the BBC's regional network and a Sunday morning programme on Radio Suffolk.

“But I suppose in our naivety we didn't know breast cancer could come back on the lung.

“We were then told the next day she had several tumours on both lungs. We went for the scan and that proved conclusive, that she had secondary breast cancer to both lungs and also her liver.”

Doctors gave her two years to live but Mrs Risby told her husband that she would outlive it by 20 years.

“She refused to accept it and said: “I'm going to beat this, I don't care what it takes I will get better”. “She said: 'I'm not going anywhere until I see my kids in a mortar board'. She wanted to see them graduate.”

Mrs Risby received chemotherapy again. She was already very unwell but in January 2007 she complained of flashing lights and headaches.

A brain scan showed tumours were also now present on the brain. Doctors were forced to stop the chemotherapy and treat the brain tumours with radiotherapy.

“Because of the radiotherapy she was on a huge dose of steroids. They caused weight gain and that's what hurt her the most. She was such a beautiful girl and she took so much pride in her appearance.

“She went through nearly all her life a size 10. But the steroids changed that,” said Mr Risby, who has previously presented shows on SGR FM and former station Radio Orwell.

Mrs Risby suffered several complications including fluid on the lungs and blood clots and was in and out of hospital.

“It was like a pharmacy here. She had oxygen at home as well. But she loved her home. She loved her family and her dogs,” said Mr Risby, who has been presenting radio programmes since 1979.

“She would very rarely weaken and it was only with me in private. She wouldn't let anyone see her with her guard down. She wouldn't accept it was terminal.”

Mrs Risby spent the last six days of her life in hospital after developing breathing difficulties.

“I was told that it might be an idea to bring the children up to say goodbye. Just an hour after I was told that Wendy said she had ordered a suede jacket from a magazine in her hospital bed and said: “This isn't going to stop me shopping!” he said.

“She never ever gave up.”

Mrs Risby died as her parents held her hand on Thursday. The family had been taking it in turns to sit with her.

Mr Risby, who was due to celebrate his 11th wedding anniversary this year with his wife, described the void in his life since his wife's death as immense.

“I'm finding it so hard because I nursed her right through to the end. It's such a hole to fill,” he said.

“The children are amazing, the pair of them. They really are a credit to her. Obviously we all have our moments when we wobble. They both want to go to the funeral and Lucy wants to read something which she will do.”

Mrs Risby told her husband she did not want anyone wearing black at her funeral and wants to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research.

“She was a staunch supporter. She has 26 work suits in her wardrobe and every single one of them has a pink ribbon on it,” said Mr Risby.

The radio presenter has arranged for his wife's funeral to be held on Valentines Day as a symbol of his love.

“She has left a massive hole. She was my soul mate,” he said.

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