Just over a year ago, BBC presenter Dianne Oxberry took part in a charity walk for Children In Need, called “Plod for Pudsey.”
She walked ten miles in a loop along the north-west coast, from Blackpool to Fleetwood, smiling and laughing with benefactors and school children along the way. Two days later, she did another ten-mile mile around the Wirral.
Everyone knew Dianne. Her beautiful face had been welcomed in houses in the region for 24 years, as the resident meteorologist (or ‘weather girl’ – Dianne didn’t care at all) for BBC North West. She looked healthy and happy, a professional who contributed to her community.
Eight weeks later she was dead, 51 years old, only ten days after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer.
Dianne Oxberry (photo) died at the age of 51, just ten days after the diagnosis of an aggressive form of ovarian cancer
There had been no warning, no time to make plans. Dianne suddenly disappeared.
It is understandable that the pain and shock are still visible in the eyes of her grieving husband, Ian Hindle.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, miss her or, very often, think of her,” admits the 57-year-old cameraman, father of their two young children. ‘I miss her sense of humor, her love. She was a brilliant woman and mother and I miss all the things we did together.
“Birthdays have been a real struggle. Christmas, which brought back all the memories of last year, was really difficult. You know you have to face it and get through it is just another step forward.
“But I don’t miss her being at those important moments – when the kids have done something great and I think,” Oh, I called her to say something about it. ‘Or when you have a bad day and want to talk to your friend, your partner, and that is not possible because she is gone. “
Dianne’s warm, natural presentation style made her a hugely popular broadcaster on both television and radio. Although she had worked alongside stars such as Simon Mayo and Steve Wright from Radio 1, she was primarily known as Dianne alone, who told the Northwest when she had to remove the barbecue from the garage at the weekend.
It is understandable that the pain and shock are still visible in the eyes of her grieving husband, Ian Hindle. The couple is pictured on their wedding day
The local boy and comedian Peter Kay once defeated her weather report and sat on his knees to say, “Dianne Oxberry … God loves her … you made the sunshine for everyone.”
When she died in January 2019, her death left a gaping hole in the life of her family.
“The speed of the disease was so shocking to all of us,” says Ian. “In the beginning it wasn’t like she was so desperately ill that we thought she was going to die. But it is a cliché to think that cancer lasts a long time. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. “
The couple, whose family home is in southern Manchester, met in 1991 when Dianne started working on a TV program on Saturday morning, The 8.15 From Manchester.
“She was very quick in understanding and could always say something funny,” says Ian. ‘The day we first met, I imitated a pop song on stage so that the other cameramen could rehearse to make the right recording. Dianne came in, saw me, and she told me later that it was the moment she thought, “Yes, he’s the one.” “
They got married in 1993 and Dianne went to work to make their dream house. “She embarrassed me when it came to doing odd jobs,” says Ian. “She fitted in the kitchen, she was going to lay floors – a neighbor remembers one day getting around and finding her alone, trying to get a large wardrobe down the stairs.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, her mass or, very often, her cry,” admits the 57-year-old cameraman, father of their two young children.
Fifteen years later, their two children were born. Ian never revealed their names or ages in an interview and wishes them to remain anonymous.
“Dianne was very protective of their privacy,” he says. “Although the outpouring of public grief in response to Dianne’s death was astonishing and comforting, it would be overwhelming for the children to get along with.
“The mothers of not many people have public memorials in Manchester Cathedral.
“She was a fantastic mother. I spent quite some time away from home because of work, but she just kept going. She had children, a horse, dogs – I can’t imagine how she managed to get along with all of them and get a job. But she did.
“She was incredibly healthy, which is why it all fell out of the blue for us. There is no history of ovarian cancer in her family. In November she had a little stomachache and said she felt tired, but that was all.
“Her doctor thought it could be irritable bowel syndrome. She had a scan and they thought she might have a ovarian cyst, but there was no panic.
“Yet that is part of the problem. Ovarian cancer is known as ‘the silent killer’ but in fact ‘whispers’. There are symptoms such as bloating, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and fatigue that may indicate it together.
The news that she had stage 3 ovarian cancer arrived on New Year’s Eve 2018 – a Monday – and she was taken to Christie Hospital in Manchester
“Women must be informed and ask for a blood test, which can be crucial for an early diagnosis.” On December 11, Dianne asked to go to A&E because she was in so much pain. After testing, she underwent a complete hysterectomy and tissue was sent for biopsies.
The news that she had stage 3 ovarian cancer arrived on New Year’s Eve 2018 – a Monday – and she was taken to Christie Hospital in Manchester.
“When the consultant came in with a Macmillan nurse and delivered the bad news, it was terrible,” says Ian. “At that time the doctors were talking about treating her with chemotherapy, but they soon realized that there were too many complications.
HOW TO SPOT SIGNS OF OVARIAN CANCER
Ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, with nearly 7,500 new cases a year in the UK. And with 4,100 deaths a year – 11 a day – it’s the deadliest gynecological cancer.
It is called “the silent killer” because the symptoms can easily be confused with those of less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, especially in the early stages. As a result, two-thirds of cases are not picked up until the cancer has spread throughout the body when it is very difficult to treat.
But if it is detected at the earliest stage, more than 90 percent of women survive five years or more.
The most common symptoms to watch out for are bloating that does not come and go, pelvic or abdominal pain most days, a feeling of fullness during eating or loss of appetite, and often going to the toilet.
Other symptoms include indigestion and nausea, bowel changes, back pain, vaginal bleeding, lethargy and weight loss.
However, a recent poll showed that more than one woman in five mistakenly believes that smears that screen for cervical cancer also pick up ovarian cancer. Some experts think this means that women ignore the symptoms because they assume that nothing is wrong.
Charity Target Target advises women to visit their doctor if they constantly feel bloated and have other symptoms that do not disappear, especially if they are over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer (as this may increase the risk of disease).
“Dianne said just a few days after the diagnosis:” I don’t know if I’m going to go through this “and I said,” No, of course you are. ” But I think we both just had a feeling. “
Within six days, consultants prepared Ian for the worst.
“They said on Monday that she would die that night, but the day before she had been sitting up and talking to people who were visiting,” he says.
“I stayed with her and talked to her, even if she couldn’t respond because she was getting so heavy medication. We spoke about the talking books she had listened to, the children and the daily practical aspects of life.
‘Friends kept visiting. She was surrounded by love. When she died four days later, I was with her. “
He pauses. Tears fill his eyes.
Keeping the children informed was of vital importance. Ian says: ‘Just a few days before her death they went to visit her, talk to her and hold her hand.
“We had to be honest with them at that time. She died on January 10 and came home and told that the children were indescribably traumatic, although it went well a year later. They went to a great charity, Once Upon A Smile, that really helped them through their trauma.
‘Sometimes we watch TV now and Dianne’s face appears on the screen and the children like that. I still find it emotional, but they will say, “We want to see pictures of mommy” or “Let’s look at mommy,” so we do that together. “
A surprising comfort for the family is the outpouring of love from all over the country.
“When I woke up the day after she died and the news came out, I had texts from people all over the world telling how much she meant to them,” says Ian. “Peter Kay and other celebrities have sent cards.”
When people started asking where to send donations, Ian set up a collection in the hope that he could donate £ 5,000 to charity. But the pot had reached £ 20,000 in hours – and the idea of creating a charity, The Dianne Oxberrry Trust, was born.
“Money came in and we thought maybe we could do something good,” says Ian. “It was one of Dianne’s broadcasting colleagues, Eamonn O’Neal, who gave us the idea of setting up a charity. We officially launched it in May of last year on World Day for Ovarian Cancer and donations have arrived. “
The Trust wants to make the public and medical professionals aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease, which kills more than 4,000 women in the UK every year. It has already donated more than £ 40,000 to an Oxford University research team, as well as £ 15,000 to Once Upon A Smile.
A program about Dianne’s story and the experiences of other women with ovarian cancer was broadcast last night, and Ian participated, although he still finds it difficult to talk about his loss.
“Someone told me after Dianne’s death that I just had to get through the next hour and then the next day, and that’s all I did,” he says. “I can’t think of any plans for the future. I am now a single parent, so my priority is my children.
“It’s hard to think about the places and times that we were together as a family without getting overwhelmed. But I will always think, “What would Dianne say?” and sometimes I still hear her voice say, “Just keep going, just do it.” So that’s what I have to do. “
The silent killer? is on BBC iPlayer and will be re-broadcast on BBC News Channel at 9.30 p.m. on Friday, February 14.
5 OF THE BEST TRAINING AIDS FOR ELDER PEOPLE
Staying fit can be difficult as we get older. Here, STEPHEN KIRK, a physiotherapist at One Wellness in Harrogate, selects five of the best pieces of training kit for the elderly.
Bosu home balance trainer, £ 123.88, newitts.com
An inflated rubber dome on a flat base, this can be used to improve balance. Walking, jogging or standing on one leg on the dome will strengthen leg muscles that keep us stable. Weight-bearing exercises such as these also help to keep bones stronger.
Power-web senior hand exerciser, £ 37.99, healthandcare.co.uk
A ring the size of a large plate with a rubbery, net-like covering, this offers resistance training to strengthen the muscles in the hand and forearm and to maintain agility. Hold it with one hand and push the fingers of the other through the net and pull it back. Use until you feel somewhat tired and build up slowly (there are six resistance levels).
MagneTrainer ER, £ 147, amazon.co.uk
This set of pedals can be used while sitting in a chair, making it suitable for people with mobility problems who want to strengthen their arms and legs. Secure the feet (or hands) on the pedals and turn. It can improve leg strength, especially the quadriceps (the large muscles at the front of the thighs) and hamstrings, important for walking and climbing stairs. Increasing the heart rate can also improve cardiovascular fitness.
MOBILITY OF THE SHOULDER
Pulley system for the home, £ 20.99, welcomemobility.co.uk
This pulley system, which fits over a front door, improves flexibility by exercising the shoulders. Adjust the pulley to the desired length and pull down on one or both handles until you pull your arms slightly. Older people often have difficulty lifting their arms above their shoulders because the muscles of the rotator cuff – essential for stabilizing the shoulder joint – can tear. The use of the pulley can help reduce muscle weakness caused by injury or stroke.
Pleny indoor mini fitness trampoline, £ 66, amazon.co.uk
This small trampoline with an adjustable handrail can be used indoors to burn calories and improve balance. Bouncing or running for five to ten minutes helps because you have to adjust your balance during landing. It will also build muscle, but with less impact on joints than a hard surface.