Raymond’s legacy: “Leaving a gift to Cancer Council was very important to him”
“Raymond had a heart of gold. He thought of other people above himself – that’s just who he was. Leaving a gift to Cancer Council was very important to him.”
When John’s best friend Raymond died from esophageal cancer in 2019, he told him he would be leaving a gift in his will to Cancer Council to help reduce the impact of cancer for future generations. Inspired by Ray’s generosity, John and his wife Jo decided to continue his legacy by doing the same, to help make a difference and save lives.
“Ray died in September 2019, around three months after he was diagnosed with cancer. We had been friends all our lives – or at least since high school, about 54 years – he was the best man at my wedding. It was the sort of friendship where we didn’t see each other all the time, but we were always in touch. He was profoundly deaf, so we’d email or text each other.
“I’ll never forget the morning he died. We had moved down to Sydney from our home in Newcastle to care for Ray at home, before he went back into the hospital. On that morning, the nurse called about 6:30am and said, “Ray wants you to come right now. He said he is dying and he wants to see you.” We sat with him, made sure he was comfortable and held his hand as he took his last breath at 11:10am.
“Ray was a huge footy fan – the Western Bulldogs were his team. After he had passed away, we dressed him in his Bulldogs scarf and beanie. The Bulldogs were in the grand final this year on Ray’s anniversary, the 25th September, so we were hoping to scatter Ray’s ashes on that day at 11:10am, but COVID got in the way. We discussed with Ray what would happen after he died and he talked about Mount Difficult in the Grampians. He wanted us to scatter his ashes there and play Country Road by John Denver. We haven’t been able to do it yet, but we will. We would have loved to do it on grand final day, it would have meant so much and we know Ray would have been over the moon!
“In the last few months of his life, we saw a vulnerability to Ray that we hadn’t seen before. He was a tough unit, he had probably been ill for quite a while but we wouldn’t have known. He had been through a lot in his life, he had it hard growing up and had been targeted for being deaf. He also suffered a family tragedy when his sister Glenda was in a life-changing accident when she was young. She lives in a care facility and Ray made sure she was looked after her whole life. Before he died, we arranged a minibus to take him to see her for what we knew would be the last time.
“Ray told us that he was including a gift to Cancer Council in his will before he died. It was really important to him. Now we’re going to continue his legacy and leave a gift in our will as well. He’d been through a lot himself and wanted to help people, he imagined a future where no one else needed to experience cancer like he had. Donating to Cancer Council’s world class research and cancer support services was his way of doing that. He had a heart of gold and thought of other people above himself, that’s just who he was.”