We need to talk about my gorgeous friend, Lily… An absolute champion who has come through so much. On the 2nd August 2016, Lily’s wonderful dad, Mick Deans, passed away after a valiant battle with a brain tumour. I met Lily that September and we became good pals, she has a heart of solid gold and she’s a brilliant laugh – a highlight of mine was us sitting mid-lecture, desperately refreshing ticket websites to get Take That tickets for our mum’s before they sold out. However, it soon became clear that she wasn’t having the time of her life at uni, as so many people were, but was actually having a really shitty one. Lily messaged me one day to say she’d decided to go home for a bit to sort her head out, I drove her to the station and that was that – she didn’t come back to uni. Here’s the thing though, Lily has watched her dad suffer with his illness, she’s struggled alongside her Mum, Louise, and brother, Harry, with their loss, had a really bloody rough time at uni and she’s STILL STANDING. Here are some things she had to say…
What was it like having to watch my dad when he was unwell:
Seeing somebody who is the back bone of your family suddenly snap and fall apart quite literally over night is a feeling and emotion I am still yet to comprehend. Dad was “the man of the house”, if you will, but he was also the man of our house; my family’s. As a family unit we’re strong anyway, but it really makes you realise how strong you are when strong is the only option you have. Dad has his good and bad days, like any of us, so on the days where he was “ok”, it was a blessing. I have one memory of when, on these good days, we would walk to the shop down the road with the dog just to get some bread, milk etc. At the time it felt like just another day but looking back, those days make me so so happy. Just being able to walk with him and talk with him was enough to please me! Obviously on the bad days, they were bad. Dad suffered with a brain tumour with a side effect of epilepsy- meaning a fit was imminent. There were occasions where I would go into the back room and see Dad spaced out and I knew a fit was coming, or he was going to have a ‘silent seizure’ (this was when he could control his body to not fit externally). It was heartbreaking to watch my Dad not in control. On reflection this was the hardest thing for me to overcome.
How it felt to lose him:
There are no words to explain how it feels to lose a parent. The only thing I can actively comment on is the absence, in the sense that there is a gaping hole in my life, my mom’s life and my brother’s life that will never be replaced. Even when we’re just at home, the 4 cups of tea that would usually be made has gone down to 3; 3 plates for dinner in the evening; 3 passports needed before we go on holiday; a empty half of the wardrobe in Mom and Dad’s room; an empty side of the bed… it’s those scenarios that break my heart the most.
In my eyes, life will never be ‘normal’ again, but that’s ok – I know and acknowledge that my life now is split into when Dad was alive and when Dad passed away. I have THE best people around me, so many that there are too many to name individually. I’m blessed to have friends and family who support me at home in Wolverhampton but also have people who I adore in Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Surrey, Bedford, Texas, Utah, Bournemouth, to name just a few! I am SO blessed to have these people and they make the pain a lot easier to deal with.
How did you feel when you were at uni:
My time at uni was a complete blur. My mind set was literally dad passing in august, the funeral in early September then moving to Nottingham in late September. I don’t know how I got into Uni on reflection! I got into Nottingham Uni with all As at a-level to study Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. I tell people this all the time because I’m so proud of myself for achieving it! #NoShame. The first couple of weeks at Uni were INCREDIBLE. I met some amazing, beautiful people that I’m still so close to today (another thing I’m grateful for) but it soon came to a stand still. I found myself in my room sleeping all day, if I wasn’t sleeping I was crying on the phone to mom saying that I just wanted to go home, or I was getting drunk (don’t recommend, drinking is good at the time but in the morning I felt 100 times worse about Dad). I was dragging myself to lectures, not engaging with the content, not enjoying what I was learning and over October just lost myself. I’m so proud of myself for admitting that university wasn’t right for me this time round, because it’s hard accepting that you spent a year applying for a course, trying to be accepted by universities to then just pack it in a month down the line. I 100% did the right thing though, and I cannot wait to go to uni in September in Birmingham.
About The Micky Deans Trust:
The Micky Deans trust is a charity me and my mom set up under my Dad’s name. We’re trying to raise as much money as possible to fund research days at the Brain Tumour Research centres. Only 1% of the government funding for cancer research goes to brain tumours and unfortunately this just isn’t enough. If you want to check out the justgiving page, click here.
The family bought Mick a fez after a Madness gig (he was a big fan) – he used to wear it every time he mowed the lawn so they put it on the charity logo.
What helped my dad when he was ill:
One thing, of many, that helped when Dad was ill was most definitely family and friends. All of them are incredible and I make sure they know it.
One quote I live by:
‘Life is short so just do what makes YOU happy’. People say this all the time but you don’t realise how precious these words are until something happens, like when I woke up one day and my Dad was unconscious.
Songs that always cheer me up:
The first one is Paradise by Coldplay. We (me, Mom, Harry and Dad) used to play Coldplay on the way to our holidays at Christmas and it makes me so happy. The second one is Resolution by Matt Colby and finally Sign of the Times by Harry Styles, because it’s me… obviously.
What makes me happy now:
Many things make me happy now, but I think the fact that I’m now finally beginning to become more content with life makes me the happiest. I wake up in the morning and I’m happy (apart from when I’m hungover and hate the world) with the legacy Dad’s left me and the love I still feel from him! (Also you can never go wrong with Gavin and Stacey).
As you can see, Lily has come through SO much and has come out of the other side smiling – WHAT A WOMAN. Let’s just all CHEER FOR HER, RIGHT NOW! I hope she shows you that life does go on even when it sometimes feels like it won’t, or when it feels like it’s too hard to continue. To read more about Mick and his family’s experience with cancer, click here, and please, PLEASE check out the family’s justgiving page and give if you can to support the excellent Brain Tumour Research fund.
Stacks of love, to all of you and especially gorgeous Lily,