Later in the winter of 1990 we both caught dreadful colds. They seemed to linger on and on the way winter colds
do, so we were both left with shocking coughs. By January we were still hacking away, and my aunt who was visiting was
quite alarmed. She fetched me a glass of water as I convulsed over the table and once I'd regained my breath she started
to nag . 'Now Sue, you've got to get that cough seen to. You ought to have a chest x-ray. Make an appointment.'
She went on and on, and in the end I listened. I'd had pneumonia once before and I didn't relish a repeat performance.
'You're still coughing too, Ronnie,' I said as I picked up the phone. 'You might as well have one as well.'
I remember the freezing afternoon we set out for the hospital. It was already dark, snow was packed hard on Chelsea
Bridge and we slithered and slipped, hanging onto each other for support.
Somehow we made it in one piece, got ourselves x-rayed and went home. To be honest we didn't think much more
about it. We were feeling slightly better and everyone gets coughs during the winter. Then a few days later the
results came through. Ironically, I (who had the worst cough) was fine. There was a question mark over Ronnie.
He was asked to come in again and speak to a doctor. There were further x-rays and tests and then came the day he was
to see the consultant. I waited outside in the car, tense as a bowstring. He seemed to be gone hours. Finally
he emerged, his face deliberately unreadable. He climbed carefully into the car.
'Now, darling. I just want you to be calm,' he said.
Instantly my stomach spun round like an automatic washing machine.
'The doctor said they'd found cancer.'
I wanted to be calm. I really did. For Ronnie. But tears leapt into my eyes and I cried and cried and
cried. This is rediculous, I thought through my sobs. It should be Ronnie crying, not me. But Ronnie always
thought of me first in every situation. He put his arms around me and held me tight, stroking my hair.
'Darling, we're going to beat this. I promise you. We can beat it. There's a chance they can operate.'
I grabbed on to the word operate as if I was drowning. I longed for them to operate. In my mind, operations
suggested hope. If they could operate, then surely Ronnie could still be saved.
He had a two-hour exploratory operation two weeks before they decided to go ahead. As it turned out, in my opinion,
the operation was the worst thing they could have done.
When the consultant announced that the operation to remove the tumour would go ahead, I was so delighted. There
were two top lung specialists who would be looking after Ronnie, and I was full of hope. I took him into Guy's Hospital,
nervous but optimistic, both of us joking weakly and trying to keep each other's spirits up.
Throughout the long, long operation I couldn't keep still. I kept going down to the hospital chapel and lighting
candles. I lit so many candles and said so many prayers.
At last Ronnie was wheeled back to the ward, and it looked as if my prayers had been answered. He was alive.
However, when I saw the consultant he wasn't smiling.
'I'm sorry, Miss Lloyd,' he said, 'we've been unable to remove the tumour. When we opened him up we found that
it was entwined round the main artery. It would have killed him to remove it.'
I made a huge effort not to dissolve. 'Isn't there anything you can do?'
'Well, there's radiotherapy,' said the consultant. 'As soon as he's strong enough he can start treatment.'
Naturally I was keen to go along with the treatment the hospital recommeded, but I was also open to other suggestions.
Like everyone else, I'd heard of and wondered about those miracle cures which defy medical science. I would do anything,
go anywhere to save Ronnie.