The following is from my friend, Charlotte Ryan, who was expected to attend work interviews or lose her benefits just weeks before she died. This was written on December 12, 2014:
I have terminal cancer, my prognosis is 0-3 years and I was diagnosed in March 2014 with my brain stem glioma. In April 2014 I was placed in the support group* for 3 years and I have gone from being able-bodied to hopelessly disabled. I have many neurological deficits including diploplia, dyspraxia, dysarthria and dysphagia. To save you googling, this means that I have double vision and am going blind, I’m very clumsy and most days I drop everything I pick up, my speech is failing and one day I won’t be able to communicate verbally at all and I have such difficulty swallowing that I now have a feeding tube.
I cannot leave the house alone and I’m at risk of choking and need 24 hour care. They speak of me going into residential care, but they hope to keep me in my own home for as long as possible. The trouble is degenerative, nothing will get better, only worse, the cancer can’t be cured. I’m 37.
Now. I can deal with all that. I’m alive! And I can still do stuff!! What I cannot deal with is that I am on the work programme! I received this letter today (too late to ring the WP) demanding I attend an appointment with the Work Programme on Tuesday or they’ll stop my benefits. HOW SICK DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE BEFORE THE HARASSMENT STOPS?”
* The support group is supposed to be for people who the Department for Work and Pensions consider to have such severe health problems that there is no likelihood of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities.
Lotte was terminally ill. What kind of government treats cancer patients in such a callous, punitive way?
The last few weeks of Lotte’s life were difficult enough, without having to cope with the threat of losing her lifeline benefits because extremely unreasonable demands were made on her by an inhumane Department for Work and Pensions. Lotte is not the only terminally ill person to be hounded in this way. This has unacceptably happened to many.
“life is like a pathway, a pathway lined with snow. Be careful with every step you take because every step will show.” Lotte Ryan.
Lotte was born on 12 July 1977, she died on 23 February, 2015, aged just 37 years. She left us this message:
Dear Friendlings, Don’t be spooked now, my cousin Chris, sisters Lis and Lucie, brother Jago and my Mum are writing this for me because I had to leave you all last week as you know. Sorry to go missing from here too for a while. My family have had a few things to do and wanted to get things right for me before informing you all of what’s happening.
My bash will be on Monday 16th March at 1.30 at Mendip Crematorium near Wells. You can google it to get directions because it’s not easy to find being up by the Glasto festival site and all.
Now I don’t want you spending your hard earned cash on flowers because I’ll have plenty of those from my family. If you want to bring me a rose and write me a message there will be a time and place for you to give those to me and I think I’d really like that. Nothing too ostentatious mind. You know I don’t do that stuff.
Cousin Chris has been getting a collection going for my charity of Caring in Bristol. If you want to donate and leave a message for me just go to justgiving.com/Lotte-Ryan and all will be revealed.
Share lots of happy memories and thoughts of me on this page, no arguing with anyone now or doing any naughty stuff. I’ve been hearing things (tut) and don’t forget to download any photies you may want to keep.
I love you all dear friendlings. My diary of a Mong is over. My journey is ended and I am at peace.
Those we have lost cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.
My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by Lotte’s death. She was so full of life, beautiful, funny, philosophical and remarkably brave. My sympathy and condolences to her family and all of her friends. She is much loved, and will be missed very much by many.
And Lotte, yes, I will see you again when I am free to leave. Be at peace x