Silsden widow’s heartfelt tribute to people who gave dying husband final wish

Keighley News: Michael Cumbers, who has lost his two-decade battle against cancer, pictured with his wife, Hilary, when they were featured in the Keighley News earlier this year Michael Cumbers, who has lost his two-decade battle against cancer, pictured with his wife, Hilary, when they were featured in the Keighley News earlier this year

A woman whose husband fought a courageous two-decade battle against cancer has paid heartfelt tribute to those who helped him achieve his final wish.

Michael Cumbers had wanted to spend his last days at the family home, rather than in hospital or a hospice.

And this week his widow, Hilary, of Browfield Terrace in Silsden, spoke emotionally of how his desire had been realised.

“He ‘went to sleep’ in his bed in his own home, exactly how he had wished it to be,” she said.

“He’d had cancer for 20 years, but he was a real fighter and kept defying the odds.”

Teacher Mrs Cumbers, 57, said the “wonderful” team at Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice Manorlands – where her husband had received care previously – was instrumental in helping the bus driver with his ultimate wish.

“At the beginning of August, he got pneumonia and another infection, and was critically ill in Airedale Hospital – he was not expected to pull through, but did,” she said.

“He then went back to Manorlands for a week, where they were absolutely fantastic and got him to a point whereby he could come home.

“We knew time was limited – the cancer had spread to Michael’s lungs and pancreas – and he wanted to be at home, and the team at Manorlands did everything possible to allow that to happen.

“And even when he was back home and no longer a patient of the hospice, they continued to monitor him.

“I cannot speak highly enough of everyone at Manorlands.”

Donations made at Mr Cumbers’ funeral, held at Skipton Cremato-rium on Tuesday, are going to the hospice fundraising campaign.

Mrs Cumbers also pays tribute to district nurses, who called to see her 59-year-old husband daily, and to his employer, Transdev Keighley & District, for its support.

And she says University Academy Keighley, where she works, has been “wonderful”.

“They had organised for me to work part-time, but Michael became so poorly I needed to take more time off, and they were fantastic,” she said.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from everyone.”

Over the years Mr Cumbers, a father and grandad, had undergone at least half-a-dozen major operations, and endured chem-otherapy and radiography in a bid to beat the advance of the cancer. The disease began in his testicles, but by the time it was diagnosed, had spread to his stomach.

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