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Fiona Childerstone | Widow Reborn

Fiona Childerstone

Founder of Widow Reborn

Fiona's Story

Given that this is the start of a new decade, it seems appropriate to look at where my life was 10 years ago.

In 2010, I had been married to Paul for 22 years and our son Scott was 13. We had met through scouting as Venture Scouts. Paul was a mechanic working on buses and I was working in accountancy.

Paul had already had two different types of cancer tumours - with really long names - removed from his outer and inner thighs, and as your chances of getting cancer are one in three, I pretty much thought that we were done on that front.

Then in March 2010, my Dad (at 85) was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer, which had previously been the cause of death of his Dad and younger sister. He was given approximately two years, which turned out to be fairly accurate.

At the end of 2011, I stopped work to be there for Dad so that his wish to die at home could be facilitated, and he passed away at home with me by his side in April 2012.

Scott did really well in his GCSE’s in 2013 and we had a family holiday to Thailand, where Paul paid extra for a blessing for health, wealth and happiness, which proved to be more than a little ironic.

Then at the end of 2013, Paul broke out in what we found out was skin cancer, on his chest and back, which was unusual since he avoided the sun but was ultimately treatable. My mother’s side of the family come from Northern Ireland so believing that things happen in threes, I hoped that this was finally it on the cancer front.

Then just after this treatment, Paul found out that he had Stage Four bowel cancer and that it had already spread to his liver. However, he was very well and the Royal Marsden were hopeful of treatment.

In preparation for this, on his last scan before treatment - along with a sudden deterioration in his wellbeing - they found that he also had Stage Four brain cancer, for which there is no good prognosis - only palliative care.

His brain tumour proved to be operable and with radiotherapy and two lots of different chemotherapy at The Royal Marsden, he had 15 months from diagnosis to his death in 2015.

It was a shock becoming a widow. Both Paul and I lost our mothers in our twenties and as Paul was the fitter and more active of us, I somewhat realistically expected our family history to repeat itself.

The first year I was kept really busy, as I’d changed careers and started up in property. I was also supporting Scott, who was struggling with the trauma of his Dad passing away just four days after he got his A-Level results.

Then by the second year we both hit a wall, as the enormity of what we had lost overwhelmed us and we reached out for help.

It feels to me that most people are there for you for the firsts; first Christmas, first anniversary, and so on.

But when the seconds come round, that's when it really hits you. That this is the beginning of the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty+ years.

(This isn't meant as a criticism - just an observation.)


Widows are getting younger too - I was only 51, but I know of younger.

Having initially dealt with my Dad and then Paul passing away within three years of each other -  Dad at home and Paul at Princess Alice Hospice - I gained a lot of knowledge about palliative end of life care, which I hope to pull together for others under the Widow in Waiting section of the site.

The idea for creating Widow Reborn was to pull together information in one place that I - and other widows - have found useful.

Then, as a community, we can share our experiences and encourage each other as we move forward and begin to live life again.

Widow Reborn - Mission Statement

"From the numbness of loss, find the colour of life again with the support of Widow Reborn"


The blog - written by Fiona - aims to share and discuss a variety of different ideas, opinions and resources that offer practical and emotional support to help you enrich your life.

The Facebook community aims to connect widows across the country, so they can share their stories and read about other's experiences. An extension of the website, it will be a resource in its own right, as we collaboratively exchange ideas and support one another.




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