All for the love of cancer victim Georgie

A WEDDING is a joyful occasion.

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Liz Boyd is so grateful to the Prince & Princess Of Wales Hospice for the way its staff helped her daughter Georgie, who had cancer    Picture: Nick Ponty
Liz Boyd is so grateful to the Prince & Princess Of Wales Hospice for the way its staff helped her daughter Georgie, who had cancer Picture: Nick Ponty

But while Georgie Boyd and Joe McAulay had the day they always wanted, surrounded by friends and family, it was also tinged with sadness.

For Georgie, 31, had a terminal illness and the couple were married at the Prince and Princess Of Wales Hospice, Glasgow, in June 2011 after learning she had only months to live.

The mother-of-two had a brain tumour – her second – and, despite surgery to remove it, doctors told her there was nothing more they could do.

Hospice staff worked around the clock to help the family from Pollok prepare for the big day by decorating the building with candles and purple balloons, Georgie's favourite colour. Friends and relatives also ensured every last detail was taken care of, from flowers to favours.

The wedding was planned within days, with the Reverend Leslie Edge, the hospice chaplain, conducting the service.

"Everything you could have had at a church wedding was there, with just a few small things missing," says Liz Boyd, 57, Georgie's mum.

"It was just like any other wedding in the morning with glasses of champagne and everyone getting their hair and nails done, so there was a nice wee buzz in the house."

Georgie was given away by her father, George, and brother Jamie.

Her children from a previous relationship, Marc, 15 and Bethany, 10, were by her side.

"Georgie could not walk very well at that point, and was in a wheelchair before the service, but George and Jamie walked her down the aisle, as it were, with Bethany in front scattering flower petals," says Liz.

"Georgie wanted to be able to walk and she achieved that with sheer determination."

The reception was organised by Fairfield Bowling Club in Govan, where Liz is a member.

"For her wedding gift, the ladies did her wedding meal. "The tables were all set out with lilac voile and purple swags and feathers, and vases of purple flowers and tealights," says Liz.

"Another friend did the disco and a girl I worked with made the wedding cake.

"Georgie loved it. I thought she would get tired, but she lasted right to the end. She had a great day and that is what she wanted."

The couple enjoyed a night in the Hilton Hotel, a gift from the hospice.

Speaking about her wedding, which was featured in the Evening Times, Georgie said it had given her something to focus on. She told us: "I wanted to have my wedding here because the staff have been so supportive."

Georgie was 25 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2005.

"She had been having seizures and wasn't feeling well," recalls Liz.

"We went to the Royal Infirmary, where they suspected she had had a massive stroke, so she was moved to the stroke unit in the Southern General.

"But she was responding well to everything and didn't show any sign of weakness so at that point they were starting to doubt it was a stroke.

"She had another seizure and it was discovered she had a shadow on her brain."

Georgie had surgery to remove the tumour.

"She was really strong," says Liz. "She had the surgery in the morning and I didn't think she would want to see anyone in the evening, but immediately out of the recovery room she told Joe, 'Tell my mum to come up'."

While she was in hospital Georgie had another seizure.

"It was clear the damage from the brain tumour was going to cause epilepsy which was a problem because it took such a long time to get it stabilised," says Liz.

It took about 10 months for Georgie to recover from the surgery and radiotherapy and the seizures began to settle.

"She started to get a bit of quality of life back," says Liz. "She wasn't confident to go out on her own but she was able to move into her own house."

The family were devastated when Georgie was diagnosed with a second brain tumour in 2009.

Liz says: "She had more surgery in March last year and doctors removed what they could, but after only two months of chemotherapy they said there was nothing else they could do – it was a terminal prognosis, three months. Georgie tried to stay positive and fit in as much as she could.

"She got a few weeks of getting out and about, but then she couldn't manage the stairs any more and she came into the hospice and was in for about 10 days."

Liz says Georgie had an inner strength that helped her through her illness.

"She knew there was no sense in getting really down because it was going to happen and she wanted to reassure the kids.

"She always kept them informed with what was happening and was very open.

"She didn't want to know how long she had but she knew once she had the terminal prognosis that it would be short."

Georgie used the hospice's day services twice a week for about eight months.

"She really looked forward to it and would have come here five days a week if she could – she loved it.

"She got involved in the art project and had her work displayed in the Southern General. It was a confidence-building exercise with her because her condition had wiped it away.

"She felt safe at the hospice, they helped her to deal with things and she got so much joy out of coming here."

There are plans to build a new hospice on a site next to Bellahouston Park, with direct access from patient bedrooms to the outdoors. Liz says that will be hugely therapeutic for patients and their families.

"It looks like a lovely space and having the access to the outdoors will help," she says.

"When Georgie was upstairs in the ward, she would look out the window and just want to go and feel the wind and the rain, so that accessibility will make a big difference to people."

Georgie was at home, with Liz, when she died and Liz and George have ensured a little of piece of Georgie is always with them.

"My husband and I like to travel. Georgie's ashes have been scattered everywhere we go, from places in Glasgow to Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Italy and France."

To learn more or to make a donation, see the website: www.ppwh.org.uk/brickbybrick

Call 0141 429 9861 or send an e-mail to: brickbybrick@ ppwh.org.uk

Send donations, made payable to The Brick By Brick Appeal, to: The Prince & Princess Of Wales Hospice, Freepost SCO1724, Glasgow, G5 9BR.

You can organise your own fundraising event – it can be anything from a coffee morning to a glamorous ball. Whatever you do, tell us about it!

We want to hear your stories, so tell us why the Prince And Princess Of Wales Hospice is so special.

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