Elinor's Story

Elinor Hamilton's cancer journey

1st January 2019

Elinor lived a normal, happy life with her wonderful husband Phil and their two beautiful boys. Sadly though, she had to face losing her husband to cancer before being diagnosed with the disease herself. Here, she recalls the day their lives changed forever.

Lives turned upside down

"I didn't see it coming, the day our lives were turned upside down, the day our lives changed forever.

In 2014, my husband Phil was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He had a less than 16% chance of survival and chemotherapy, surgeries and palliative care beckoned. But still, life carried on. The boys had their homework, house chores didn't stop and our business still needed to run. When going through a cancer diagnosis, life doesn't give you a break.

You've probably heard Phil's voice before - he is the voice of the familiar 'Mind the Gap' announcement on the country's railways.

Keeping life as normal as possible

My brave Phil passed away in 2016. Not only did I lose my best friend and love of my life, but the boys lost their father at such a young age. I was determined while grieving to keep everything as normal as possible - but sometimes life has other plans.

Four months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage three - like Phil.

My world collapsed. I had to manage early widowhood, surgery and treatment without him there to hold my hand or reassure the boys that mummy wasn't going to die as well.

One of the lucky ones

I'm one of he lucky ones - simply because I had breast cancer, because I knew my chances of survival were good. I feel fortunate to have benefited from years of research - especially because our children don't need to face losing another parent. However, it saddens me deeply that research into Phil's type of cancer is still so far behind.

That's why I ran the London Marathon for Worldwide Cancer Research - they fill the gaps in research by funding projects looking into all types of cancer. Staff and volunteers cheered me towards the finish, their voices joining Phil's who was with me every step of the way, announcing trains below the roads I ran along. 

Elinor at London Marathon

As someone who has benefitted from life-saving cancer research, I'm delighted to have been able to help 'Phil the gaps' in oesophageal cancer research. But many more gaps remain for other cancer types. That's why Worldwide Cancer Research needs more kind-hearted supporters like you to give what you can."


There are over 200 types of cancer. So while we've made major breakthroughs, so much more research time is needed to help people like Phil. Will you follow in Elinor's footsteps and raise funds for research?