'His bravery inspired so many': Mum on losing husband, 29, to cancer
- Credit: Helena Quarmby
Fiona Ginn, development fundraiser for St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich, become a widow in 2017, when her husband, Mike, died aged 29, after a year-long battle with Leukaemia.
Mike inspired so many with his courage and Fiona has fulfilled a promise she gave him by publishing a book about his journey – a raw reflection of day-to-day life, whilst raising their then newborn daughter Hope.
Fiona will be celebrating Mother’s Day with an afternoon tea, with her Mum, Jean, along with Hope.
What’s the impact of Covid-19 and how are you adapting?
In March 2020 the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown meant many changes for Hope and I.
Never before in my previous seven years as a fundraiser for St Elizabeth Hospice have I and my colleagues had to put many of our fundraising activities on hold.
This included the cancellation of large scale mass participation events and supporter activities as we adapted to meet government guidelines.
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This was the reality of the pandemic and it had a huge financial impact.
So many people locally have a connection to the hospice and our supporters wanted to do whatever they could during this time.
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Whether it was holding virtual events or sending in donations, we wanted to keep them updated with how the hospice were adapting their services on the front line to ensure our patients were supported effectively.
I was working from home and as my daughter’s nursery was closed, she was with me whilst I worked.
With her swimming, gymnastics, dance and ballet classes all cancelled it meant our time together was really special.
We used lockdown as an opportunity to explore our local countryside either by walking or cycling, being creative, and having family fun before she started school in September 2020.
We are so thankful for the stunning surroundings we have here in Holbrook.
Even amid the pandemic we found the slowing down of life an opportunity to support our local community and those who were less fortunate by delivering food supplies to those who struggled to have access to fresh produce.
I felt it was important for Hope to see how vital it is to help others and show kindness.
This recent lockdown I have used as an opportunity to publish Mike’s blog into a physical book.
On diagnosis of Leukaemia in July 2016 when Hope was just 10 weeks old, Mike started writing a daily blog which he published online.
This was his way of expressing his feelings whilst updating many on his treatment.
It became incredibly popular and the readers appreciated his rawness but strength during complete uncertainty.
When he was receiving end of life care at St Elizabeth Hospice he asked me to publish the blog into a book so that Hope could read about his journey and know his love for her.
I promised him I would and am now pleased to say it is available to purchase on Amazon and is called Diary of a 20 something cancer fighter.
The book continues to inspire so many and is full of hope for the future.
What advice can you give to our readers?
Every day is a blessing, you never know how a small act of kindness can help others.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
Generations of my family have been raised in Suffolk, I am grateful to have been raised in Holbrook on the Shotley Peninsular in Suffolk and to have returned to the village I love.
I have always lived here except during my university years when I studied at De Montfort University in Leicester for my degree in design management and innovation.
My Dad was brought up in Ipswich.
He loved his local sport and ITFC and Ipswich Witches Speedway were his passions.
His love of sport transferred to me and I continue to enjoy football, golf, cricket and tennis.
For many years Dad and I enjoyed season tickets at Portman Road, these were special times before he died in 2010 after a short battle with cancer.
My Mum, having lived in Stutton and Holbrook most of her life, has inspired my love of the countryside and my creative interests.
Photography, crafts and textiles are some of the artistic mediums I continue to explore.
What is your East Anglian Heaven?
The stunning countryside, pace of life and sense of community. Seeing the seasons change and how wildlife adapts.
What is your East Anglian Hell?
As a youngster growing up in a remote village I found the lack of public transport challenging.
Many times I relied on my parents for travel particularly in the evenings where buses were non-existent.
I predict I may well be doing the same for Hope as she grows up!
Though it does mean I often am able to travel down The Strand by the River Orwell, talk about stunning views!
What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
The Freston Boot, it’s great to support local, independent eateries.
The produce is fresh, seasonal and there’s always a chance of bumping into a
What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
One of our favourite things is a long walk, either locally at Alton Water or by visiting Ickworth National Trust grounds near Bury St Edmunds.
When we get home we enjoy a hot chocolate together and love to be able to eat out where possible at restaurants such as The Freston Boot, Waldringfield Maybush or The Ship at Levington.
What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
The stunning beaches and coastline we have along the Peninsular.
Holbrook Creek is beautiful.
We cycled there many times during lockdown and I have many fond memories as a youngster of visiting the beach there and swimming in the creek.
We love sitting and watching the tide ebbing and flowing as the boats launch and return.
From here we often walk along the River Stour and through Stutton.
We also find Stutton Foreshore a beautiful haven.
Hope loves exploring the beach and playing on the swings, something my sister and I used to enjoy in our childhood together.
Pin Mill is another favourite spot for us, it’s a photographer’s paradise!
What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
The Suffolk Show!
I have always enjoyed it.
It’s a great family day out with so much to see and do.
My particular favourite is seeing the livestock and how the farming community comes together. It’s always a great atmosphere and I can’t wait until it returns again.
What do you always have in your fridge?
Smoked salmon, eggs and tomatoes.
What’s your simple philosophy of life?
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
What’s your favourite film?
Any period dramas, I love Pride and Prejudice and the Poldark series.
What was your first job?
Dog walker at a local kennels, I used to help after school and at weekends.
What is your most treasured possession?
Who do you admire most?
Anyone who helps others, in whatever way they are able to.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Sticky toffee pudding with cream or profiteroles. Both taste amazing.
What do you like about yourself most?
Looking at everything in a positive light, there is always good to come out of any circumstance and light in the darkness.
What’s your worst character trait?
I can something bounce from one project to the next without finishing the first. They do often get completed, but not always as quickly as I had planned.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Cottage holiday in the British Isles, a chance to explore the local countryside and learn about the history of the area.
Last summer we had the opportunity of visiting the Cotswolds, it was stunning.
We love travelling to north Norfolk also and the gorgeous rolling beaches.
Every time we visit we always purchase local fresh fish and make a trip to see the seals at Horsey.
We stayed at Happisburgh a few years ago and it is always so sad seeing such a beautiful area being corroded into the sea.
Best day of your life?
Star Wars Day 2016 (4th May) the day my miracle daughter was born.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and cooked tomatoes!
What’s your favourite tipple?
I rarely drink alcohol but if I did it would be Baileys and cream, or a creamy cocktail.
What’s your hidden talent?
Pianist, I love to tinkle on the ivories. I find it very relaxing and it’s always great seeing Hope starting to play.
When were you most embarrassed?
Getting stuck in the Paternoster lift at De Montfort University in our Art and Design Faculty.
Soon after it was deemed unsafe and taken down.
What’s your earliest memory?
Making pear mice with my Mum as a young child, I used to put the almond in the ears and currents for the nose and eyes.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
You Raise Me Up.
Tell us something people don’t know about you?
It took me 11 times to pass my driving test, it was a rather expensive past time!
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
There is nowhere else which is so peaceful and tranquil. I am blessed to live here and fortunate to have so many beautiful landscapes on my doorstep.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
How in amongst times of trial there is always hope.
Seeing the strength that my late husband Mike had during his year long fight against cancer, he always held onto his faith and hope for the future.
Every day he saw as a blessing with our daughter Hope, she gave him courage to endure the treatment.
His bravery inspired so many and it still continues to do so through the words of his blog.
There is light in the darkness and his words in the book shines brightly in amongst a time of complete uncertainty, something we can all appreciate after the last year.
If you would like to buy the book, please visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-20-something-cancer-fighter/
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