It was only a couple of weeks ago that Given To Live received an application for Neil to see a festival, Boomtown being the pick of the bunch.It was short notice but there was a real urgency to fill this application, to make it happen for Neil. In the application we learned Neil has inoperable cancer. Liver, lung and kidney and his wish was to be at a festival while he still could.
Thank to the amazing Jos and Kate at Boomtown things happened fast and tickets were found for us to take Neil and his friends who made the application, Vicki and Byron. Everything was in place but during the week Neil felt a lot worse and by Wednesday evening it seemed as if we'd have to let go of Neil being well enough to go at all. The initial hope was for Neil to spend one night at Boomtown and who knows, maybe that could turn into two.
Then Neil got moved into a hospice as his pain got worse and reality spoke to lessening our hopes to a day at Boomtown, then the calls from Vicki after visits became bleaker. The pain was increasing and if we'd been going on Thursday there would have been no hope. But Thursday evening came and Neil had perked up and the pain eased a little and our sights were set on Saturday. And our hope was simply that he could get there and have a few hours without too much pain so he could have his wish. To be in a festival amongst music he loves, in that oh so good festival vibe. And we hoped for sunshine but this is England!
The news was good on Friday and the nurses at the hospice were one Neil's side. So long as he was feeling ok on Saturday morning when Vicki and Byron went to pick him up away to Boomtown we would go. He was, we did.
We got to Boomtown early afternoon and the sun was out and Neil was doing great. We settled into The Meadow and then took Neil down into the festival, down a track where it Neil used his wheelchair as support to walk down. This wheelchair seemed to have a life of its own, veering towards any group of attractive women walking our way. Neil assured us it had nothing to do with him and the chair was simply divining for honnies and he wasn't responsible!
On Friday night Vicki, Byron and I had thought if we could get Neil to the festival and he got a few hours painless enjoyment then it was success. In the end we had over four hours where Neil was comfortable. But also the journey up was part of the day, picking up donuts, saying he wanted a dirty festival hot dog with all the sauces that he got and delighted in, being with friends who love him, getting out in the sunshine.
We left at around 7.30. Far too early yet also more than we could have dreamed of earlier in the week. To see Neil with a smile taking in the festival with his two oldest and dearest friends was something very special.
Neil got his wish.
There are so many people to thank in making Neil's day happen -
Jos and Kate at Boomtown. You made a dream come true at short notice, thank you so much.
Stella at Boomtown's entrance, you're a star and we all appreciate your kindness and generous spirit. Thank you.
Everyone who wrote a message or had us pass one on. It made a huge difference to Neil and he thanks you all. There's no doubt this played a huge part in Neil getting there.
And to Vicki and Byron I'm so glad Neil has you as his friends. I also know how heartbreaking this is for you both and you've shown tremendous courage and incredible love for Neil in all you've done for him. It's not easy seeing your best friend dying so young and you're walking this journey by his side and he's not going through this alone. Vicki ripped ligaments in her ankle and tore her calf since they made the application so she was on crutches all day with the swelling growing visibly
Thank you for all your doing for Neil.
For the last year the Foo Fam, a Facebook group with members from all four corners of the globe, has been supporting Given To Live.