Sue McDermott talks about her husband Bernie's commitment to new research, and how Christmas is different without him around.

7 Nov 2019

In 2017, we heard the inspirational story of retired Chief Inspector, Bernie McDermott, from his daughter, Hayley. She told us how he faced his diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer head-on, without letting it get in the way of making lasting memories with his family.

At the time, it was still too painful for Bernie’s wife, Sue, to speak about him. Now, two years on, Sue felt able to talk to us, to remember happy Christmases with Bernie, and reflect on how he always believed research would help us stop this disease in its tracks.

“Bernie and I met in December 1979, and got married soon after. For 36 years, we did everything together. Bernie loved adventure, so we would do anything to get us outdoors. We wanted to walk all over the world together.

Unfortunately, we never got a chance to do that. When Bernie was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, we were both heartbroken. But Bernie was a very strong man. He never once Googled his diagnosis, or how long he had left, but what he did Google was the research. He was passionate about what new treatments could be around the corner, so he could keep going that little bit longer.

We were lucky to have Bernie for six years after his diagnosis. He got to meet his two grandchildren, Rory and Lydia, and they built some amazing memories together. But we always knew the cancer couldn’t be cured.

We lost him in 2016, four days before Christmas. His loss is still very raw for our family. No day is easy, but Christmas is particularly hard. It’s not just because I know I’ve got to get past that day, but because Bernie was such a huge part of our family Christmas.

We were lucky to have Bernie for six years after his diagnosis. He got to meet his two grandchildren, Rory and Lydia, and they built some amazing memories together. But we always knew the cancer couldn’t be cured.

- Sue McDermott

 

When our daughter, Hayley, was growing up, it was just the three of us at Christmas. So we’d invite neighbours to join us. Bernie would always make a fuss of them, offering sherries first thing in the morning. Bernie didn’t drink sherry any other time of the year, but Christmas Day was sherry day. I can see him now, in the kitchen with his pinny on, sipping his sherry. The problem was, he’d always forget something because he’d had too many – I remember he forgot the roast potatoes a few times!

Christmas was an amazing time for us, but it’s not the same now. The year he died, none of us could face cooking, that was always Bernie’s job. So, we went round all the pubs instead, and we met everyone who knew Bernie to share memories and celebrate his life. It helped me get through Christmas that year.

We’d give anything to have more than just Bernie’s memory alive this Christmas, but we know he’d want us to keep going, and make new memories. We’re bringing Bernie and his memory with us as we try and focus on future Christmases with Hayley and our grandchildren.

Last year, Hayley’s husband, Alex, took on the role of cooking Christmas dinner with a sherry in hand. Something I do every year now is to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. It gives me something to focus on at that time of year. And I’m sure it would make Bernie proud, because he knew funding research was the way to stop this disease.

He would say, “They’re going to cure this one day, I know they are! It’s not about me, I know it won’t happen in my lifetime, but it’s for Rory.”

Bernie would be thrilled to know he’s part of raising £1 million for ground-breaking research this Christmas. I hope it means families like mine don’t have to rely on memories to be with their loved ones this Christmas.”

This Christmas, donate to our appeal to fund the research that will give families more time with the men they love.

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