Walk with us in Anna’s memory…

As most of you know, it has (somehow!) almost been a year since we lost our girl. And we wanted to mark the day by inviting you all to join us on the afternoon of Saturday 16th September 2017 to walk the Great Aycliffe Way in Anna's memory.

Anna touched the lives of so many people, so even if your connection with her was purely through her blog, we invite you to join us.

Fundraising, though still as vital as always, is optional on this day and is secondary to our goal, which is simply to walk on and remember Anna with love and laughter, in exactly the way she would've wanted. If you wish to join us, and we genuinely welcome everyone, young and old and anywhere in between, all we ask is this:

  1. Get in touch to let us know you'll be there to walk with us. (Contact us through the Inside My Head fb page, or via email to Victoria@loxoflove.co.uk) This is to help us gain an idea of numbers and to let us know to wait for you before we start! Don't want anyone running behind us to catch up (or getting lost!)
  2. Wear something bright and cheery on the day! And literally anything goes! Anna always embraced fun and individuality so, while we ask, for your own comfort and safety, that you remember sensible shoes (some boots aren't made for walking!), you can pretty much wear whatever you see fit to mark the day.
  3. Meet us on the car park of the Cobblers Hall pub, Newton Aycliffe from 1.30pm and we will begin our walk at 2pm. Our walk is approximately 5 miles (gentle terrain so no need to panic!) and not intended to be challenging in any way. We estimate a maximum of 2 hours to complete our walk and we finish where we started, at the pub!
  4. We invite you all to join us afterwards at the Cobblers Hall pub for drinks. So even if you are unable to join us for our walk, you are welcome to raise a glass with us afterwards.
  5. Bring your children, bring your dog, bring banners, balloons or just yourself.. We simply walk on for Anna.
  6. And lastly, if you would like to make a donation or raise sponsorship for the event, we ask that all donations are made either directly to Anna's Justgiving page (which currently sits at a whopping £117k!) or in cash on the day and we will add it to her total on your behalf. Remember ALL donations go to Brain Tumour Research Campaign.

So it is really that simple… We invite you all to help us make, what will always be, an incredibly difficult day for Anna's family and friends, into a day full of love and laughter so that we all remember our beautiful and brave girl just the way she would've wanted.

And if Anna is with us on the day, here's hoping she remembers to order sunshine!

Hope to see you all there! I'll be the one pulling Enid out if some insanely muddy puddle somewhere – she always manages to find one wherever we walk! No wonder she and Anna had such a bond! Have a little peak at this video I found from Summer 2016. It sums up everything about Anna.. Full of life, full of fun and totally on the same wavelength as her crazy springer spaniel!

Victoria xx

If you have any questions about the day, contact us via Facebook or email (victoria@loxoflove.co.uk).

If you are unable to join us and wish to make a donation to Brain Tumour Research Campaign in memory of Anna, you can do so here.

Post 36: The Trouble With Grief…

What do you do when someone you love dies? Someone you assumed would always be there for the whole of your lifetime… someone whose death upsets the natural order that we all live by….?

It’s tempting to become bitter, cynical and even a little hateful at the world, at people who cause hurt and upset to others, at religion, politics… I remind myself that this thought cycle is a potential downward spiral to a life of ugliness, what ifs and general unfulfillment. But I can see how it can be comforting in some ways to hold on to the indignant and self-righteous questions like ‘why is life so unfair?’… ‘what is wrong with this world?’… ‘if there was even a god, why would they allow this to happen?’… ‘what’s the point of it all?’

For some, this is potentially a natural train of thought, the way they approach life, even prior to the loss of a loved one (these people particularly frustrate me), for others it’s just a way of trying to make sense of the loss.

The flip side of this would be to embrace the positives, such as holding on to the memories you are lucky enough to have, feeling thankful to have shared your life with that person, providing support and comfort to those who also lost and are left behind.  In a lot of ways this is much harder than giving in to the negatives.

I sit somewhere in between. I’ve questioned why.. what for.. whose fault is this.. could we have done anything different.. why is that person alive and healthy when my sister isn’t.. blah blah.. And I’ve also thought long and hard about the purpose of it all. We have to find a reason, a purpose for things, to be able to make sense of why we do the things we do.

My favourite question, the one I try and live by, is ‘what would Anna have done?’ Because for someone who was faced with the finality of their life at such a young age, and who managed to rally her troops to behave in the way we all did, and help her to reach her incredible fundraising target of £100k, then she’s someone whose opinion will be forever worth considering.

So with that in mind, as well as a little therapy, some medication, my love for my job, my family and reigniting my love/hate relationship with the gym, I feel a little less lost. Most days..

Of course there are always the times when I get unexpectedly struck by our loss, and it hits hardest from the things you don’t see coming. A comment, an image, an unexpected reminder of the smallest kind… But we’ve grown used to these. I know they will never go away. And they all become part and parcel of remembering and continuing to love that person even though they’re gone.

And somewhere along the way we have all started to see the positives in it all. The point, the reason, the purpose. We were lucky to have had Anna with us for as long as we did, we were lucky to have witnessed and taken lead from her bravery and courage, we were lucky to have not seen Anna lose too much of who she was at the end, we were lucky that we got to say goodbye, and we were lucky that she positively affected so many people in the way that she did, providing comfort to others who needed it along the way.

Hearing the devastating news of the recent terrorism in Manchester brings home just how lucky we were. Anna didn’t go out one day and never come home, we got our goodbye. We were lucky. So you see, it’s all about perspective. Well that’s what I’m learning anyway. Trying to make sense of the senseless.

I even take comfort from the robins and butterflies that seem to appear far more frequently than ever before. I like to believe they’re visits from Anna and the family we have lost. My nan, grandad, aunty Betty, Pete, grandma, grandpa.. Even the dogs.. I like to believe they’re altogether somewhere and I take comfort from that. I haven’t found god, I don’t believe in a lot of things, so for those of you who know me, this is probably totally out of character, but grief changes people, and for me I hope it’s for the better.

Of course we have the added honour of continuing where Anna left her fight, which I think we’ve all taken some comfort in. I’m determined to keep her legacy alive and to support the charity that meant so much to her.

And I strongly believe that her story, as tragic as it is uplifting, should be told. So I am therefore making tentative steps towards writing a book in case I start to forget the little things that made our last couple of years with her so special (and funny.. she was always funny). So any help would be gratefully received! I’ve never written a book before (even though my dissertation felt like one!) so I’m a little out of my comfort zone!

Somehow it has been just over 8 months since Anna passed away. I genuinely don’t know how that time has passed. I’m just travelling back up north from a lovely, much-needed week with some of my family in Cornwall where I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, relax and remember, and so for the first time in months I felt like I had something to say. I hope I haven’t bored you all!!

9F5323D8-4B71-4F70-8945-7CFD1B40475A
Just some positive food for thought and the mantras that Anna tried to live by ❤️
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yes please!
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Anna would’ve loved this one! She’d have sent it with the caption ‘I hate it when this happens!’
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Just some of the memes Anna and I have or would have shared..

I promise my next post (very belated) will be about the charity ball we held in March and what our next fundraising plans are.  But for now I’ll leave you with what I hope wasn’t too melancholy a rambling and some food for thought in that we should all try and see the positives in life (as much a reminder for me as it is for everyone else!) 🙂

Much love

Victoria xx

POST 22: SUPPORT FROM SENEGAL

As I have told you before, I studied Languages and European Studies at the University of Portsmouth; I majored in French. During my studies at uni I had a conversational tutor called Aba/ M.Bodian. I always struggled with my spoken French, well, I least preferred it out of all my other language disciplines, so I always saw myself as a bit of a poor student in his class!

To my surprise, Aba, who originates from Senegal, contacted me with well wishes after he came across my blog. It was lovely to hear from him last year just after I was diagnosed, and it certainly brought back some fond memories of uni days!

Even lovelier, was the message I received from him last month. He informed me he was now teaching GCSE level students in Senegal and wrote to seek my approval to share my story with his class. I felt extremely honoured and of course I approved!

A few days later I received a document containing messages of support from his GCSE students in this class. As I sat reading all of these, I cried; it felt so incredible to know that even these great kids in Senegal were backing me in my fight against my brain tumour.

 

I wanted to dedicate this blog to them; Coraline, Thierno, Isatou, Mariama, Aya, Moctar, Malick, Fatou, Issa, Sokhna, Jean Louis, Muhammed, Ousseynou, Lamine, Fama, Ababacar, and Kenny. Not forgetting, of course, your wonderful teacher, Aba Bodinski. I wanted to make sure you wonderful students knew just how much of a smile (as well as happy tears) your letters put on my face! It was such a kind thing to do and I thank you for writing them so beautifully! (As a linguist, I can say your English writing skills are impressive!!).

Senegal Support

I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to share them on my blog:

 

To Anna Swabey by the 9th grade students in Le College Bilingue Dakar, Senegal

 

Dear Anna,

My name is Coraline, I am a student in College Bilingue in Dakar, and I am 14. With my English teacher we had read a text about you and your Brain Tumor.

I find you very courageous to fight such a disease. You are very determined and you help other people who are in the same situation as you and it is very cool. You are a model for me because of your bravery and your determination. You inspired me to fight and to succeed in life.

I advise you to carry on and you will succeed to fight against this Brain Tumor. I also congratulate you on your engagement and upcoming wedding. I wish you the best of the world.

Coraline

Hello Anna,

My name is Thierno Noba, I am in 9th grade at LCB, and live in Senegal.

I’m writing to express my support. I find you brave, bubbly and amazing. For me, you are inspirational because what you did is something someone else would not surely do. You are inspirational because you managed to turn your negative experiences into positive actions and I find it very fascinating.

I support you because I appreciate all the activities you established to fight Brain Tumor and encourage you to keep fighting because I know that you can make it.

I also want to congratulate you on your engagement and upcoming wedding. I wish you the best.

Thierno

 

Dearest Anna,

My name is Isatou KA and I am in 9th grade, in a school called College Bilingue in Senegal.

The reason why I am writing is to show my support. You are bright, intelligent and bubbly. You are very brave and I admire you because you turned your negative experiences into positive actions and I find it really fascinating. You are an inspiration because you really try to help other people in the same condition.

I support you to keep fighting because I know that you can make it. Never give up, keep moving forward because I am positive that you can win the battle.

I also want to congratulate you on your engagement and upcoming wedding. I wish you the best and hope that Andrew will make you happy.

Yours faithfully,

Isatou KA          

                    

Hello Anna

I am writing to you, to support you because what you are living is very difficult. You are very brave, intelligent and courageous. I hope that you will feel well after reading this message. Congratulation on your engagement. I hope that you will have a lot of happiness in your couple. You are a person who inspires me because you fight for the others who have the same disease as you.

Yours faithfully,

Mariama Bharati Fall 

 

Hello Anna

My name is Aya Dia I’m in 9th grade I live in Dakar. You are really courageous and brave. You are an inspiration because you took your illness positively. And you created a blog to help the people who had the same illness as you. 

I support you to keep fighting because you help a lot of people and I know that you can make it. So keep fighting for the people who have brain tumor.

Aya

 

Dearest Anna,

My name is Moctar Abbott, I am 15 and in 9th grade.  I am currently in a middle school called LCB that is located in Dakar, Senegal.

This week in class we have been talking about you and your amazing story. I understood that you are a person full of life which, considering your situation is extremely inspiring. As a result, I believe everyone should know about what you are currently going through. I believe that I am very privileged to be writing to you today.

I would also like to take this time to congratulate you on your engagement and wish you and your partner a great wedding.

 

Yours faithfully,

Moctar Abbott

 

Dear Anna,

My name is Malick Ndoye I am from L.C.B (a bilingual school) in Senegal (in Dakar) in 9th grade. I am writing you this letter to show you my happiness about your blog and what you are doing for people who are affected by brain tumour like you. I think that you are generous, courageous, kind and positive in what you are doing. You are an inspiration because if everyone is doing like you, a lot of people will survive to those kinds of diseases. I think you should keep on fighting for it and helping other brain tumour patients. Congratulation on your engagement and your upcoming weeding.      

Yours faithfully,

Malick Ndoye                              

 

Hi Anna,

My name is Fatou Balla Mboup. I come from Senegal. I’m a student in a school called LCB and I’m in 9thgrade.

Anna, you are one of the liveliest people I have ever heard of before. You are also very kind because of your action. Not everyone in the world will do that if they found out they just have 3 months to live. You Anna, you were fighting against the Brain Tumour and you don’t give up. You also think about other people who have the same problem as you and helping by show them they are not alone. That’s why I believe you are an inspiration.                                                  

I just want to tell you, don’t give up, continue to fight and help those people. Be brave.

You have all my support.                                                                               

 I also want to tell you, congratulation for being engaged and soon be married. You have all my wishes and hope this day will be the best for you and your future husband.                                                                                                                       

With all my support,

Fatou Balla MBOUP

 

Hello Anna

My name is Issa Kanji. I am 15 and I am writing to express my support. In my point of view, you are an amazing, courageous, smiling person who is determined to beat brain tumor. You are an inspiration to us because you are suffering from brain tumor and still getting one of the highest grades in the world.

 I support you because I know that your condition does not depend on the doctor but on how you try to fight against the disease. I am telling you this because GOD is the one that created the person that told you that you were going to die in 3 months but look, you lived a year longer and you are still doing amazing! I think it is very brave of you to decide to get married. And I am really impressed by your fiancée. Because even though you are suffering from one of the most dangerous diseases in the world, he still loves you for who you are. And it was really courageous of you to accept.

I encourage you, and hope you live longer because you DESERVE LIFE and LOVE.

Issa

 

Hi Anna!

I’m Sokhna, I’m fifteen and I am in LCB School in Dakar. I am also with your former teacher Mr. Bodian! We talked about you today in class. For me I think that you are strong not because you fight your tumor but because of the marathon of Paris. I can’t already run in sports so I think that you are brave for that. You are positive because you are smiling and staying strong and the key of success is to stay positive. It is the most important thing. I think you are an inspiration because you inspire me in working hard. You need to keep fighting because I think that you are strong and you need to fight for your friends, family and your fiancé but also for you! I think that your family is very proud of you and so are all the people who had read your blog! So congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Anna keep going like this I hope you will win this fight against your brain tumor!

PS: Listen to Stronger by Kanye West and Daft Punk because I believe the song has been written for you

Yours faithfully,

Sokhna Dabo.

 

Dear Anna,

My name is Jean-Louis Jousso, I’m in 9th Grade in a school called LCB and I live in Dakar. After reading the article about you, I can say that you are a determined and strong -minded woman. You are really courageous for fighting against this big disease. By doing that you’re saying: Never give up! You have all my support.

Congratulations on your engagement.

Yours faithfully

Jean Louis

 

 

Dear Anna,

My name is Muhammed and I study at L.C.B (Le College Bilingue). I am in 3e and I live in Senegal, Dakar. I read your story and I think that you are a very nice and courageous woman. I think you are an inspiration because thinking about other people is always a good thing and even if it is about people in the same situation. You are a very smart woman and with all the things you accomplished you don’t deserve such a thing.

But you should keep fighting, a miracle can still happen. Follow your dreams and don’t give up. I also wanted to congratulate you for your upcoming wedding and I wish it to be full of happiness.

Muhammed

 

Dear Anna,

My name is Ousseynou Ndoye. I study at L.C.B, in 9th grade. I live in Senegal. I decided to send you this message because of your act of braveness and courage. After I read your story, I was speechless! The way you reacted was just exceptional and very inspirational. You are no ordinary person but a new figure in history! A lot of people in your situation would have only thought about themselves but you did not! You decided to help others. I believe your acts of kindness can beat the Brain tumor and because you are never alone, even from Africa you have support! Congratulations on your engagement! I hope you have a peaceful and successful life!

Ousseynou

 

Dear Anna

My name is Lamine Sidy Diouf I am in 9th grade. I am in a school called LCB. I am 15 years old and I live in Dakar, Senegal. We have been talking about you and for me you are a really brave woman because if I was at your place I would be crying for three months. The way you deal with your illness really impressed me. You are positive and it is really cool!! Continue to live your life like you want and don’t give up I am your number 1 fan in Senegal. And also congratulations and good wishes for you and your partner. Happy wedding.

Yours faithfully                                                  

Lamine

 

Dear Anna

My name is Fama Mbacke. I’m 14 years old. I’m studying in LCB Dakar (Senegal). I found you really courageous and inspirational. Because I think that if it was me, I wouldn’t be that strong and positive minded. You inspire me because I really like what you are doing “showing to people in the same case of you that they are not alone”. I find this great, because I think that many people need that support that you give. I find this fascinating and encourage you to continue! I wish that you will continue fighting as you have always done.  Please never give up! Congratulation on your engagement and all the best for the future.

Yours faithfully,

Fama.

 

Dearest Anna,

My name is Ababacar Ba, I am in 9th grade, and I am from Dakar. I am writing this letter to show my support and all the attention that I carry to your situation.

You are a courageous woman and even though I have never met you, I am sure you are always merry, because you never give up and you stay positive.  I really appreciate what you did when you created a blog to show others that are in the same position that they are not alone. I wish you all the happiness in the world and that you spend a beautiful wedding with your fiancé.

Yours faithfully,

Ababacar

 

Hello Anna, my name is Kenny Araujo, I am fifteen years old and I go to school at le college bilingual de Dakar. I am in the 9th grade. I think you are a very courageous and inspiring person for not getting affected by your disease.

I encourage you to keep doing what you do because it helps people in the same situation as you are but that are not as brave as you are. And I also encourage you to keep up your fund raising activities because there are people with the same disease but can’t get treatment because they are poor. Congratulations for your upcoming wedding.                             

Kenny Araujo

************

 

Thanks again!

All my love,

Anna xxxx