14 November 2023

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Tricia and Vee’s story

"I’ll never forget our chats on the phone". Tricia shares her special memories of her daughter, Vee.

Veronica Stylianou died aged just 45 at St Christopher’s in March. For her mother, Tricia Ellis, it’s left a huge hole in her life, highlighted most notably by the conversations they can no longer have.

“I’ll never forget our chats on the phone”. Tricia remembers fondly.

“She was a great one for talking. I’m not a natural chatterer on the phone, but she loved to chat and the one person I would do it with.

“She’d say, ‘Mum, can I run something past you?’ and two hours later we’d still be talking. She’d call several times a week and was always up for a chat. She wanted me to give an opinion and for her to be reassured about all the small decisions in life. She was completely different with the big things. Like the way she coped with the gobsmacking diagnosis of cancer without ever questioning it and asking “Why me?”. That’s my abiding memory of her.”

Tricia and her husband, Mike, adopted Veronica, or Vee (as Mike quickly christened her and as she was known by everyone) when she was four. Vee was always creative growing up and went to Cardiff Art School. “Art was her passion. She was also a very sociable person and had so many friends. Vee brought everyone together with her loving and exceptionally caring nature.”

This was probably best illustrated at the funeral. The 150-person capacity was far exceeded, with family and friends attending from far and wide, including Australia. The funeral also typified Vee’s selflessness. Once she knew her prognosis, she insisted on making all the plans for the funeral, including visiting numerous venues in search of the right one – Bluebell Cemetery near Sevenoaks. She didn’t want her husband Alex to be burdened with all the funeral arrangements after she’d gone.

Vee had enjoyed a successful career working with fabric companies as an account manager. She was married to Alex, and they had two sons, George and Leo, and lived in Hayes.

She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2021. After major surgery, several hospital admissions, six months of chemotherapy followed by immunotherapy, Vee was referred to St Christopher’s in January this year and died on 14 March.

Tricia visited almost every day and held the fort at home as she had throughout much of Vee’s illness. This allowed Vee and Alex to spend as much time as possible together.

Vee’s husband Alex was so grateful for the care the hospice provided, he set up a giving site which has so far raised more than £10,000 for St Christopher’s.

When Tricia looks back, she remembers fondly an occasion which was typical of Vee’s creativity, planning and generosity.

“I remember Christmas 2021 when she was feeling ok during her treatment, she invited Mike and I plus her older sister Jenny and her husband and 3 sons for a Christmas meal. I went into the dining room and she had set it all up and the table was just – wow! I curse to this day I didn’t take a picture of it. It was just so stunning, and beautifully colour coordinated. That was a nice memory of a very happy family day as it was the last time we had all the family together with her hosting it.

“But most of all I’ll miss our chats.”

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