Ray and Marie share why they are doing the Walk of Life

Posted: 19th April 2023

Husband and wife Ray and Marie Colomb, will be taking on the 10-mile walk at the Walk of Life to say an extra special thank you to the RUH.

Ray and Marie live in Corsham and between them, they have four children and two grandchildren.  Two years ago, their lives were flipped upside down when Ray was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Leukaemia and Mastocytosis. Ray and Marie were kind enough to share their RUH experience with us.

Q: What was your experience within the RUH?

Ray: I was treated as an outpatient at the RUH and I waited for a stem cell transplant in Bristol. Unfortunately the leukaemia progressed to acute Myeloid and I had a heart attack and a stroke. This resulted in me needing aggressive chemotherapy which I received on the William Budd ward but breathing difficulties meant I ended up in the ICU for about 10 days.

Marie: He was very sick and we thought we were going to lose him. I was very scared.

Ray: Shortly after my time on the ICU, I was discharged and sent home to try to gain enough strength for the transplant, which resulted in me being readmitted to William Budd for more chemo to keep the leukaemia at bay.  By the beginning of March 2022 it was decided I was fit enough for the transplant which was started (with more chemo) in Bristol on 17 March, with the transplant occurring on the 23rd. I came home at the end of June and am now enjoying this new lease of life with my family.

Q: How did receiving the diagnosis make you feel?

Ray: This was a very difficult time for me and my family. I was scared by the uncertainty of how the treatment would affect me, especially when I ended up in ICU.

Marie: I visited Ray every day. The staff were always very kind – I knew he was being well taken care of.

Q: Do you remember how staff at the RUH Bath made you feel looked after?

Marie: The staff although busy would always make time for Ray. They had great compassion for what he was going through. He was in isolation for a long time, and only saw me and the staff. They didn’t just do a job, they were really caring.

Ray: When I was in isolation, I found it quite difficult. This was made easier for me by the staff, from non-clinical to doctors, who would always make time to talk to me and show compassion for my situation.

Q: Do you have a stand out memory from your experience?

Ray: Whilst in ICU I reached a very low state of mind and two members of staff spent an hour transferring me from my bed to a wheelchair (whilst still connected to all the machines), just so that I could be taken outside for five minutes (it was really cold!), and then taking me back and reversing everything.  This was a truly humbling and very generous gesture by staff who were already overworked.

Marie: While Ray was in intensive care he sent us a photo of him sat in a wheelchair outside, we cried.  Two incredible nurses spent an hour getting him ready for a five min trip outside. The fresh air did him the world of good. Their kindness was inspiring. It still makes me emotional now. They were already busy but made time to make things a little bit better for Ray.

Q: Why have you chosen to fundraise for RUHX?

Ray: I want to try to give something back and say thank you.

Marie: The RUH helped us through some very dark days. The treatment Ray received saved his life and I thank them for that. Life has changed for us but I feel so lucky to still have Ray here.

Thank you Ray and Marie for sharing your story – we can’t wait to meet you in May.

Will you join them at the Walk of Life? There’s still time to sign up here