ON January 31 this year our world turned upside down and our lives changed forever when I lost my mum to cancer.
We had been planning a charity ball before she passed away and it was her hope to be able to be there on the night itself.
I decided to go ahead with the Wedding Dress Charity Ball in support of Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff and St David’s Hospice Care in Newport, following the care and support she received following her diagnosis in 2016.
My mum, Krystyna Skellon, who was 67, was my best friend and we were inseparable. She was an amazing mum, wife, sister and a proud and devoted grandmother-of-two. Her warm, generous spirit, smile and kind heart were infectious. Her kindness and generosity saw no bounds.
Though a trained a pattern-cutter, she later became an auxiliary nurse at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny where she worked until her retirement seven years ago. Her former colleagues described her as a lovely, selfless and caring nurse.
In April 2016, aged 66, she was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer that was sadly terminal.
I took leave from my job as a multi-media journalist at the South Wales Argus newspaper in Newport, South Wales to help my father care for her and eventually took the decision to leave last year as her illness progressed.
With her brave and determined spirit and the support of her Consultant, Dr Kein Yim and his team, the amazing nurses at Velindre and at its Outreach Clinic at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, she underwent 17 sessions of palliative chemotherapy over 20 months in the hope that it would give her more time with her family and two young grandchildren that she so desperately wanted.
The nurses, staff and consultants at both hospitals surrounded my mum with kindness and compassion that I’ll never forget. Despite enduring gruelling chemotherapy treatments, the clinics were a place of laughter, hope, inspiration and support.
Over the months they became like family, supporting us as I planned my wedding during such a difficult time. They went above and beyond to arrange her treatment so that she could be at my wedding, attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace and enjoy a holiday to Cyprus.
She was also supported by St David’s Hospice Care, through home visits. The charity’s Hospice at Home service made it possible for her to be at home for her final days and we will always be grateful to those nurses who spent five nights at our home with us caring for her. This vital service for patients with life-limiting illnesses enabled her to leave hospital and spend her last days at home, as was her wish. To us, they are angels and there is no doubt we would not have coped without them.
The Velindre nurses and consultants looking after her, together with the hospice, provided care, kindness and compassion to my mum and our family that I will be eternally gratefully for.
Despite her great heart, courage and fortitude during treatment, she passed away at home surrounded by her family on January 31, 2018.
My husband and myself, were inspired to hold the ball after several guests at our wedding, held in Abergavenny in November 2016 said that they would love to re-live their wedding day memories by wearing their dresses one more time.
My mum made her own wedding dress in 1971 and we felt that a charity night giving brides the chance to unpack their dresses would be a good way to raise funds for two causes close to our hearts.
The theme for the ball is a big wedding celebration party.
Guests will be greeted by a red carpet, drinks on arrival, a three-course dinner, live and silent auction and raffle, a live music from resident pianist Richard Harris and his band, as well as a DJ.
“We hope to see brides who would love to wear their dress again and bring their families and friends from their big day. Anyone who has been a bridesmaid, mother or father of the groom/bride, ushers, grooms and lots of wedding guests wearing an array of fascinators and accessories.
“There has been a real wedding buzz this year, especially with the Royal Wedding in May and the forthcoming wedding of Princess Eugine. It would be lovely if the ball falls on the anniversary of a couple and make the night an extra special celebration.
“We would obviously love to raise as much as we possibly can for two causes close to our hearts and also to raise awareness of the services they provide and work that they do.”
We are looking for auction items, raffle prizes and sponsors. Whether it’s a florist sponsoring the table flowers, to favours and goodie bags for guests, a photographer, wedding cake or advertising. To get in touch email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For tickets visit www.WDBall.com or Facebook The Wedding Dress Ball @WDCBall and on Twitter @UnpackYourDress
To find out more about the charities visit:
*Velindre provides specialist cancer services to over 1.5million people in South East Wales and beyond. It is one of the largest cancer centres in the UK.
* Last year over 58,000 hours of care were provided by St David’s ‘Hospice at Home’ service. It costs over £7.9 million every year to provide hospice care, free-of-charge, to patients and their families.