Sam’s progress

In 2006 Sam was doing a diploma at Drumtech in London: he was a happy 19 year old enjoying his version of a gap year or foundation course after leaving school, learning to be independent – with the practical help of his Chinese girlfriend, Winnie – and his life stretching in front of him.  Little did we know what was probably already growing in his right brain…

This page is to help those who have come to Sam’s story late to get an overview of the journey.

Bad days

I realise that many readers are most interested in what I have written about our son and perhaps not so much in all the other aspects of my life 😉 I have considered separating them out into different blogs… but this is simply the outpouring of my heart, so I think all of it has to hang together.  We don’t hold with ‘dualism’ in this family – the rough and the smooth, darkness and light, the highs and lows, faith, hope and questioning are all part of life  – as are suffering and death.

I am committed to fleshing out my prayers and convictions in my life at the same time as expressing everything that needs to be said with honesty and transparency.  Yes, this openness makes me very vulnerable and the writing painful to read – but you’ll know that already if you’ve been around this blog for a while!

Good days

I consider the whole story is worth the telling and the cost. But I found recently when I wanted to trace someone else’s story it can be quite hard to do as, unlike books, blogs always run ‘backwards’ with the latest news at the front and oldest posts buried at the back.  Although it is possible to look back through the ‘Sam’s journey’ category in the right-hand side bar to trace his progress over the past 2 years, there are more than 60 posts in there now.

So on this new page I am putting key posts from 2010 onwards in chronological order down the page; these links follow on from Diagnosis Dairy up to the present and cover the most popular posts, key moments and painful points along the way to make it easy to review from the beginning.

23rd birthday

Setting this page up was also a way of marking the 3 year anniversary of  Sam’s initial brain scan on 1st April 2009 when the tell-tale lesions were first seen but not correctly diagnosed. We remain grateful for those 10 months of relative freedom when we thought he would be perfectly curable in time with steroid treatment: we had some wonderful holidays and blessed experiences in 2009 that would not have been possible once diagnosis was made. Early in 2010 his biopsy showed the cancer and changed all of our lives forever.

Initial treatment is conventional: surgery was not possible and so chemo-radiotherapy was given during Lent 2010, followed by a brain scan to check on progress. But Sam was knocked back by the treatment, losing weight and his appetite and taste as well as all his hair. He knew there was nothing more than chemotherapy the oncologist could offer him, so determined to find other methods of shrinking the life-threatening tumour – notably cannabis oil, the Budwig diet and latterly, because it was part of our faith as Christians, spiritual healing. We would maintain that prayer has been of great benefit, both in the family feeling supported and Sam remaining as well as he has… it was certainly the reason his hair grew back again!

Outpatient’s appointment after radiotherapy

Top links:

Background noise, 6.9.10: the first time I wrote about Sam was a few days after  starting this blog on 1st September 2010, 6 months after diagnosis.

In his own words, 22.9.10:  This was the most popular post with readers for many months. It is Sam’s story of coming to terms with his diagnosis and researching possible treatments, as told by him and posted on an on-line drummers’ chat room.

Hope deferred, 19.10.10 and The immovable object, 20.10.10coping with disappointing brain scan results.

Stuck in the middle, 4.11.10: The continuing journey.

A shot across the bow, 7.12.10: encountering those moments of fear.

Letting go, 18.12.10: the ‘tearing’ as Sam made a major decision we didn’t agree with, to see an unconventional healer.

New Year, 8.1.11: How do you face a new year with a terminal diagnosis?

Unexpected good news, 11.1.11: what it says on the tin! A wonderful day on this journey of tears and fears…

Balaam’s ass, 5.2.11: enter Kris Kraft, American ‘energy healer’…

Turbulence, 8.2.11: And then what?

Decade, 29.3.11: more disappointing scan results…

No sweat! 16.4.11: the arrival of Jessa, Sam’s American internet girfriend, for a turbulent 6 month stay.

Welcoming a new daughter, 11.5.11: Jessa’s story

Two difficult days, 4.6.11: engagement and stumbling blindly forward…

When the bough breaks, 16.6.11: the day they moved out!

Spotlight on Sam son, 2.8.11: the Mail on Sunday publish a centrefold article on our story

Punch drunk love, 24.8.11: as parents we are reeling from the roller-coaster ride, but still standing

Being a good dad21.9.11:  Martin and Sam go on BBC TV

****See the links to the TV programmes on the Media Moments page****

Behind the scenes, 23.9.11: Live on ITV – and the hidden personal cost

It didn’t help, but…25.9.11: Reactions and responses to exposure

M and M’s, 28.9.11: Media, marriage and moving

Too much, too young, 7.10.11: The traumatic and unexpected end of the affair!

He’s going… 22.10.11: Sam ups and goes and we have to let go of him again- this time to get hemp oil in Canada

Out of sight is out of mind, 11.11.11: his 2 months away leaves us feeling anxious and rejected!

Mood swings, 29.12.11: his return, with its ups and downs

March on, my soul, be strong, 1.3.12: weary after our battles and a long winter, we are still waiting for so many things…

“Put your money where your mouth is”, 8.3.12: Sam’s frustration boils over!

Sam speaks out!, 12.3.12: A very long diatribe from Mr Dyer, telling it like it is for him up to this point – physically, medically, spiritually, financially…

Final farewell, 9.5.12: He finally gets internet in his own home and completely makes the break from us

A very happy birthday: 12.5.12: A cause for celebration as Sam attains his quarter century.

Beware the Ides of May and Scan result: around 15.5.12: another scan with it’s emotional ups and downs as we face the reality of what we are up against once again.

4o months on – 1.4.09 – 1.8.12

Nice new November – November 2012 begins and all is well

You have Mail – Headline news about another family’s battles over brain tumour treatment brings the Daily Mail back to our story: they want to run it again…

Sudden death – in the aftermath of the Mail article we all decide we’d rather not let the media tell our story for us anymore and I call a halt to this blog for a while… perhaps until I can write the book of ‘Sam son’…? Sam continues well: he’s about to take his new girlfriend to Paris to celebrate New Year 2013 🙂

PostscriptMarch 2013 – a final comment for this blog, though Sam’s story was by no means over!


He died on 25th November after about 3 weeks of obvious decline. Having fought bravely for 5 years the tumour returned with a vengeance, but he continued to deny it to the very end. We are glad it was quick, though a roller-coaster for the family.

Saying goodbye 


7 Responses to Sam’s progress

  1. dianewoodrow says:

    Love you X

  2. Iris McLean says:

    My heart goes out to you. Our wonderful son, died of a brain tumour last year, an amazing Christian leaving a young wife and infant girl. His godfather is a consultant neuro at Leicester, we live near Nottingham. May God give you comfort and strength and please know some of us have sadly had to travel a similar road, I also understand the anguish, bewilderment and dashed hopes. Let me know if I can help in any way. Iris

    • Sally Ann says:

      Thank you Iris. Perhaps knowing that we are not the only ones is the most helpful thing there is. We have much in common too! Thank you too for the offer of contact. How did you hear about us? God bless you very much. With love X

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  5. christine owens says:

    Dear Sally Ann,
    I came across your blog by accident. I know your pain, Your husband tried to save my son Harley.
    To loose a child is so painful. I speak to him everyday. I ask his advise on most things. I wonder if he likes the way I decorated the lounge, I tell him about the grandchildren. I can not and will not ever get over loosing him. I carry him in my heart for always, Best of all I remember what it feels like to put my arms around around him, his smell, his sense of humour. His beautiful white teeth, his twinkling eyes. My first thought in the morning is Harley, my prayers at night cover many things but always always they end please look after Harley.
    As a family we were most grateful to your husband. Harley had told me that your son was ill. When I read your blog and of his passing I was so very upset for you all.
    Peace be with you


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