Chloe Drury by Mike Thomas
I gripped the wooden lectern tightly with both hands to try and prevent myself breaking down with emotion.
It was a year ago last Friday. The lectern was at the front of St Mark’s Church, Purley – and I was starting to speak at the Memorial Service of my best friend, Chloë.
In front of me were hundreds of faces, young and old alike. They were there to celebrate and remember an ultimately, short but extremely well-lived life.The life of Chloë Drury.
On Wednesday the 27th of February last year, I received a call from a friend, she sat me down, she looked me in the eye and told me that Chloë was going to die, that there was nothing anyone could do anymore and it was going to happen in the next few days.
I sat in shock, I tried to ask questions about when it would happen, and how did they know?
All I remember thinking is that I felt desperately helpless. That night I stayed surrounded by friends, trying to find comfort in each other, anything not to be alone.
All night I relived the time I spent with Chloe, the first time we met, the days spent in her company, the last time I ever saw her. I thought about her dreams and aspirations, the things that she’d been so excited about, and which now would never be fulfilled.
When the news finally came through early the next morning that Chloë had passed, there were no more tears, no more uncontrollable emotion just silence, I was completely numb.
Mike Thomas and Liam Ryan at the Houses of Parliament 24th Feb 2014 speaking alongside Lord Saatchi as he launched the public consultation LIVE via Google Hangout.
Over the next few hours I had to have conversations that I wish never had to happen, to be bearer of the worst news possible, to look people in the eye, friends and family alike, and tell them that Chloë had died.
Watching them breakdown in front of me was unbearable.
The following weeks, were the most difficult. As a friendship group we spent nearly every day together, making sure that no one was alone for too long.
Being alone let you think too much, it allowed you to dwell and let reality set in, it let you realise that you would never see Chloë again, that you never got to say goodbye.
These painful thoughts would stay with me for months.
Eventually, we had to return to school, we had to return to everyday life.
But no matter how normal you try to make it, it’s impossible to pretend that nothing has changed.
For me personally, my school attendance was almost non existent, the last place I wanted to be was at school, because at that point in my life, lessons and exams didn’t matter, grades and university places weren’t important, I’d lost a friend and it had stripped me of all motivation. I had no drive.
There were two factors that help me deal with Chloë’s passing. Firstly the unwavering and resolute support that we all received from friends, dealing with this alone would have been undoubtedly impossible.
Secondly, the sheer bravery and optimism of her mum, Debbie Binner.
Despite what she has had to endure, she is always looking for a positive. Debbie has turned loosing Chloë into her driving force.
It was Debbie who urged me to speak in St Mark’s Church, who gave me the opportunity to say goodbye properly. When I stood at that lectern and spoke, I felt like I had finally let Chloë know how much she meant to me.
I hope that I have given you an insight into the pain that losing a friend causes, for young people like me.
And if you remember just one aspect of my words, I urge for it to be this one.
Chloe’s death has brought about many questions about cancer treatments.
And I urge you to ask yourself this question: Have you done everything you could have, were you bold enough, brave enough to demand more, more innovation and more accessibility to cancer treatments, so that more lives are saved where possible?
For Chloë and the hundreds of others who find themselves in her situation, Make sure the answer is yes.
This blog is based on a speech by Mike Thomas, who spoke at the House of Lords on Monday 24 Februrary about the death of his friend Chloë Drury and in support of the Medical Innovation Bill. Chloë died on 28 February 2013, of Ewings sarcoma aged 18.