I am over the moon to introduce you to Liz Bisson. Liz is a remarkable woman and WOW of course. She is someone who is completely ‘genuine’ and has the wonderful ability to make other’s feel great, cherished and safe. She’s a natural listener, giver and I am featuring her because I want her to know she is so highly thought of. Her gift of empathy would make her a natural counsellor. Liz volunteers for the Teenage Cancer Trust She is creative, a blogger , runs a small business letting her cottage and is a most fabulous hostess, or Trolley Dolly at #thebreakfastclub, a place of support and positivity weekdays 6.45-8am on Twitter. We call it Natural Networking and Liz was chosen for who she is , her fab sense of humour humour and gift with language.
Liz can you tell us a bit about yourself ?
I am a life-loving lady who really appreciates all I have, which is loads! I am married to a great chap who has allowed me to make my own choices in life, and supported me in everything we have been through together. I have a 21year old who is about to leave uni (EEEK! where did all those years go??) I love to act, paint, draw, laugh with friends old and new, try out new gadgets, I’m never far from my iPad and iPhone! I can occasionally be found on the golf course or on a ski slope, but more often than not in my home with my dog and cats. I think that’s me…oh yes, and I have trouble thinking of myself as a WOW woman! I still think Jayne’s got the wrong Liz!!
You spent years caring for your Mum Liz, tell us about that
Since I was about 2 and a half until her death I have been answering the phone and making calls for my mother; she became deaf at 8 after whooping cough, so knew how to speak and learned to lip read at her aunt’s school in Great Crosby, after all her normal school work. She didn’t have hearing aides until i was born when she was 38! As she was always very involved in groups for her church, embroidery circles and organised an art exhibition every year for 20 years and couldn’t drive, whenever I was home I was her ears and driver. As she grew older she relied more and more on me for help, especially when diagnosed with breast cancer, after my father’s death. Eventually we all moved to our present home where she lived in a cottage in our garden. I became her full time carer along with professionals to get her up and put her to bed. As you can imagine she was always frustrated, having been a very active woman, and used to getting her own way! We had a great relationship eventually, (it was not always easy as we were rather alike,) and I am grateful I was able to help her and keep her at home for as long as possible. She died in hospital at 89! I miss her words of wisdom, and wish I’d been able to learn more from her.
Life teaches us, what have you learnt about yourself ?
The first thing I learned is that the old adage of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is true! You never know what you are capable of until you have to do it. I have always thought of myself as quite a selfish person, and I did make sure I had time for myself and others in the family, whatever was going on; but I discovered I work well in a crisis (after an initial headless chicken moment or two!). I like to know what I’m facing, the facts told bold and bald…then I know what I have to do, and can just get on with it. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was what wonderful friends I had and how important they were to me! Not to mention what a fab hubby I had chosen!!! The big thing I learned was that I am not afraid of death.
I can’t believe how fast the time has flown! Ally was a normal child, running everywhere, loved her friends, loved her little brother – in fact she used to always answer for him when they were together! She was good at winding me up, and knew which buttons to press! (I try very hard to remember exactly what she was like, and not put her on a pedestal.) She was at boarding school when she was diagnosed, and loving it there, and just beginning to play mum off against dad, as they do at that stage! She was very scared when diagnosed, but tried so hard not to let us know…she had brilliant friends who she shared her feelings with. She hated hospitals so we gave her her chemo at home from a little pump…panic would ensue at the smallest air bubble in the tube, and she would accuse me of loving hurting her when I gave her her interferon(?) Injection. Golly, I’ve forgotten what was in the injection! I was so lucky to be able to devote myself 24-7 to her care, and am grateful for the intense 7 months I had with her
Life without her is odd. I don’I know where we would have been now if she was alive, but I was an only child and never wanted to just have the one – to be alone, and to feel all the pressure on that one; but our son Jamie is not an only child in that sense – Ally is always there. I think it has changed more for him perhaps. We were always a strong family unit, and that hasn’t changed, although I wish Jamie would call home a bit more often! We don’t make a huge thing of her anniversaries, but we don’t avoid talking about her. I miss the youngsters who would hopefully have been coming to stay, the parties etc, and I am sad I will never see my beautiful daughter walk down the isle, or hold her child in my arms. But then, Jamie may get married and have kids, there’s always hope! Christmas feels very odd to me, and I miss her hugely on my birthday and Mothers’ Day as men are hopeless at remembering cards! ( how selfish is that!) The hardest question I get asked is ‘how many children do you have’! Do we say one, and deny Ally, or say two and explain, putting the questioner on the spot? I try and gauge the person as to how they will react.
But it is important that you know I am so grateful we had her and I would not have missed a single day of it!!!
What can you share that might help a family facing such a desperate loss?
Each loss is different, and each family faces loss in a different way. There are so many cliches of ‘it will get easier in time’ etc.
Ask people for help if you need it, but don’t be afraid to say when you need to be left alone! Scream out loud if you need to, cry when you feel like it…its all normal! Do what feels right for you! Don’t rush into things, take your time, and listen to your body and gut feelings. Stay in bed if you need to and can! I found talking about Ally to others helped me, but everyone is different. Don’t worry if you feel angry, but try not to physically hurt others! Counseling can help, but some people don’t want it. We didn’t at the time – I have now had counseling, and it has been a huge help, but that’s me! It sounds awful, but the bad feelings will pass, and memories fade. That is nature’s way. Eventually you will be able to look forward and plan, rather than back and grieve.
You support The Teenage Cancer Trust, can you tell us more?
This is a fantastic small charity which builds units just for teenagers: well, ages 11-24. You may have heard of the week long concerts they have at The Royal Albert Hall every year. Ally asked us to support them because she hated the wards she went into…the staff were wonderful, but they were either full of little ones crying through being scared etc, or older people in the last throws of life…all pretty horrible, and if you’ve got hormones raging as well… Well, you can imagine! (I was always having to stop her swearing!!!) In the TCT Units the aim is to treat the youngsters as humans first and patients second. There are all the gadgets that teenagers hate to be parted from, internet, entertainment areas, quiet areas for chilling, even ares for education! One of the best things about these wards and the trust is that they offer a place where teenagers with cancer can meet others in similar boast and can talk about their fears, feelings, treatments..and try to be as normal as possible; it is so important for them to know they are not alone! Ally had a fantastic group of friends who supported her to the end, but only one had any personal experience of cancer.
The Trust also does a fab job going into schools and educating the youngsters about cancer…We had a brilliant chap, Nigel, come to Benenden School and explain cancer and its treatments in a way that didn’t scare the children: and he was able to give real comfort to the children and the teachers.
All of this takes money, of course! £500,000 – £3.5 mil, So I have decided its time to get off my backside again and have joined with others to get the funds rolling in. TCT are trying to encourage local areas to set up their own fundraising committees and if you are interested please contact them, and they will put you in touch with your area rep!!! Our group is called TCTRAFs (Rye Area Fund Raisers).
What really matters to you Liz?
Oh, where to start? Love, family, friendship, laughter, learning new things. I think it is important to try to have balance in your life ( finding that tricky myself!) and to ensure that whilst living life to the fullest I do no deliberate harm to others! I am at my happiest when surrounded by friends and family and I see them laughing, and feeling good!
What inspires you?
Others people! I am blown away by the people I have met on Twitter and through The Breakfast Club! Also by those who give their time and energy to help other people. Listening to what other people have achieved always makes me want to do more!
You are a natural performer, do you have some on stage stories to share?
Oh, you’ve noticed? Yes, right from the age of 2 I have apparently been performing. I spent some very happy years with my local Am Dram soc, and we had a ball…sometimes I preferred the rehearsals to the actual performances! My first roll for them was as the Marquise in Dangerous Liaison,(Glen Close in the film!) and had to kiss an 18yr old on stage in front of the whole village, family and friends! ( it did my street cred no end of good, but killed his!) He was at the boarding school opposite our house and occasionally came over to practice lines( but not the kissing scenes!); whenever he did my son, who was about 6 at the time, would stick by my side with a frown on his face. His said it was very bad of me to have another man in the house when Daddy wasn’t there, and would stomp around with his arms folded! Even then he had a strong sense of right and wrong, and I love him for it!. Any other stories cannot be put in print!
You’re very creative Liz, how has this developed?
I have always loved doing things with my hands, but hated being taught as a little girl! I taught myself to knit and crochet by watching my grandmother. I made Barbie’s clothes, then my own. My mother was always doing something so it rubbed off. When the children were at middle school I took up painting as my mother needed a lift to her art class. After a while the teacher persuaded me to do a foundation of Art course at the local college which I loved, and discovered printing! I am now learning to draw properly, rather than paint in a slapdash manner, and it can be very frustrating, but so far the finished results are not too bad. We have added a (clothed) life model too!
What are your dreams for the future?
That’s the simplest of these questions to answer! To be healthy and happy! To see my son grow up and develop into the wonderful man and father I know him to be; to be able to grow old with my hubby, enjoy playing golf together and to continue to learn something new every day to enrich this wonderful life I have.
I hope you’ll read this LIz and be very proud of what you’ve done in life so far and look forward to the exciting discoveries that lie ahead for you. Thank you being part of our lives and for sharing. Your blog will touch hearts.