Terminal cancer patient with just weeks to live hosting own wake to say goodbye to family and friends
Chris Clark, 43, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost a year ago, has organised a knees up in his local pub so that he can join his friends and relatives as they pay their last respects.
Brave Chris aims to raise cash for Cancer Connections during the gathering at the Lord Nelson in Jarrow, on Saturday, February 29, in the hope he can help others after he has gone.
Chris, who was given the devastating news last week, said: "The realisation of how little time I may have left hit me hard but at the same time I knew I had to actually live during that time.
"I was on an emotional roller-coaster and it took me three or four days to settle down.
"I initially thought I would break down but then one of the nurses asked if I had thought about an awake wake. You are awake, you are alive.
"I started thinking why should I be dead for my wake and not see people.
"People would come who I haven’t seen for years, so why shouldn't I get to see them?
"The people I love, my friends and family, would all be together and I would actually be there to say goodbye.
"This has given me something else to focus on and actually helped me emotionally.
"I don't want people grieving, those close to me have gone through every step with me since my diagnosis and the wake has given them something to focus on as well."
Chris, who works for UTS Engineering Company in Jarrow said friends and former colleagues will be travelling from across the U.K. and abroad for his wake.
He added: "It weird to say I'm actually looking forward to it, seeing all of my family and friends together.
"It will be an emotional day and it will be held in the afternoon because I know I will become tired.
"It will be a day of laughs, with some dark humour I'm sure, and hopefully something everyone will remember with a smile."
Chris, whose family say has the "heart and strength of a lion" has a history of Crohn's Disease and his primary cancer diagnosis was of the bowel.
He lives with his girlfriend, shop assistant Claire Kirby, 46, in Sunderland.
Chris added: "Claire's my rock who puts up with my mood swings. I'd be lost without her.
"People have been so generous to me since my diagnosis, friends, family and my employers have helped non stop and there was a fundraiser to help me still enjoy life after I was diagnosed.
“Cancer Connections has been a lifeline, they help with counselling, money advice, basically anything you need.
"The Macmillan nurses have also been outstanding.
"I want to urge people to get checked. If you have any symptoms of anything at all then get help straight away, whether it’s physical health or mental health, don't just leave it to chance, get it checked out."
Chris will be raising money for Cancer Connections at the wake and donations can be made at his Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ChrisClark04
During his hospital stays, Chris has penned poetry about his journey.
He has agreed to share one of his poems:
"Gently as the wind caresses the sea,
I watch aimlessly as the waves progress.
Wind blowing on a solitary tree, branches breaking leaves a mess.
I sit in comfort in my car, anguish, anger thoughts afar.
Why is life so unfair?
I love my life I duly care.
No second chance or any respite, just hanging on tight preparing to fight.
A glimmer of hope or a change in luck, is my body up for this ruck?
Aspirations and dreams amiss, praying for change that would be bliss.
Raw emotion and hurt is deep, head’s a rollercoaster I pray for sleep.
Silent thoughts I'm so confused,
Cancer's laughing it's so amused.
Another victim I'll become,
I'll gain my wings and join my mum....
Days or weeks time will tell,
I've went through an emotional hell.
I'm dreading death and my fatal breath.
My love, my family my friends I will leave,
Please celebrate my life and do not grieve!!!!!"