Debs Always

Debs Always

Debra Grady was just 42 when she was taken from her loving family, the hole she leaves in their lives is huge. A wonderful wife, mum, daughter, sister and friend who is sadly missed by all who knew her.

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Me and Debs met in Amsterdam on a short break with friends and work colleagues in November 1991. I worked with Debs best friend Katy at that time so I guess I owe Katy big time for introducing us. I eventually asked Debs out at a Christmas party the following month never thinking she’d accept but she did. From that moment my life revolved totally around Debs. We got engaged in September 1992 and married on 18 June 1994. Our marriage, like all relationships, had its up’s and down’s but one thing that never changed was the love we felt for each other. I’m a firm believer in the ‘you can’t appreciate the high’s unless you’ve experienced the lows’ point of view. Me and Debs always knew that getting through the tough times made our relationship stronger. Having to cope with the last year was almost unbearable but we faced it all together, hand in hand, knowing whatever happened we would love each other as much as we did then always.

On that day in late March last year though, our lives were about to be shattered. Debs was very sick on the night of March 30 but woke in the morning determined to go to work, even though she still looked and felt very unwell. Debs was like that. She was a self employed hairdresser and would never dream of letting down one of her clients. Debs got one of her customary lifts to work that morning from our next door neighbour and one of her closest friends, Janet. Shortly into her trip to work though Debs suffered a seizure. I was on my way home from dropping the kids off at school when I noticed Janet’s car parked up next to an ambulance. When I first saw Debs in the ambulance my heart sank. I knew even at that point that what was happening to Debs was serious. Debs suffered a second seizure in the A+E unit of St James’s Hospital, Leeds and was admitted onto a ward the same day.

After a seemingly endless series of tests, which ended with Debs undergoing a biopsy of what we then knew was one of two lumps in her brain, we eventually learned the heartbreaking diagnosis that Debs had a malignant tumour and that the prognosis was not good. Despite getting such devastating news though, Debs asked that we were not fully informed of the grade of tumour or any of the negative aspects of her condition, and that we only concentrate on treatment and recovery. Despite all the progressively bad news we received during her treatment, Debs maintained an unbelievably positive outlook. She even told me off a few times for appearing sad and gloomy. She continued to work, even after her treatment had started, still not wanting to let anyone down, but eventually agreed to stop work until she felt better. She always felt that she would recover from this horrible condition one day.


Debs commenced a six week course of radio and chemotherapy in May 2011. She never once complained about anything, the worsening headaches, the awful taste in her mouth caused by the chemo, the endless cannulas, blood tests, and then transfusions, needed as a result of significant issues Debs had with her all of her blood counts that meant the chemotherapy course had to be stopped three weeks into the six week course. Debs was upset that as she put it, her body had let her down and she hadn’t been strong enough to complete her chemotherapy course, but she was even more determined to recover sufficiently to recommence a new course of ‘chemo’ sometime in the near future. We were even able at that point to go on Holiday, our annual week in Robin Hood’s Bay with Deb’s parents, a trip Debs had made every year since she was a toddler and a place she absolutely loved and had treasured memories of. Caitlin and Jake love it their too and I hope I am able to face going their again sometime in the future with them.

Sadly though Debs was now starting to deteriorate quite rapidly. Mobility became a problem, one of the side effects of the large dose of steroids Deb’s was taking to reduce the swelling in her head. As the type and dosage of medication increased, Debs started to slip more and more away from us. We did though manage to celebrate Deb’s 42nd birthday on the 8 October. I made afternoon tea (one of Deb’s favourites) for what seemed like morning, afternoon and evening as a succession of Deb’s amazing friends called round to help her celebrate. Debs had a lovely day that day! Sadly though, only a few weeks later on 24 October 2011 Debs was diagnosed as only having days/ hours left. On the morning of the 25 October 2011, Debs very sadly passed away peacefully at home just after 6am. Whilst it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I was with her until the end and was able to hold her, and kiss her and tell her how much I always had and always would love her.

Losing Debs has left a permanent and massive hole in our lives. For my part, I feel as though my life ended too but I realise I still have a job to do, firstly in continuing to raise our children in a way that they would make Debs (and me) proud, and hopefully being a reflection of the loving, caring, thoughtful way Debs lived her life, and secondly in maintaining Debs memory, hopefully in a positive way from which others might benefit.

I was always so proud that Debs was my wife, as well as an amazing mum to Caitlin and Jake. I know I’m biased but I always thought she was the most gorgeous person I had ever seen. But Debs was more than that. We received so many messages and remembrance cards after we lost Debs, and they all expressed the same thing, Debs was as gorgeous on the inside as she was on the outside. She cared so much about the way people felt about her and put so much into all her relationships, be it family, friends or clients, to ensure they liked her. Much as it sometimes frustrated me (as selfishly I wanted Debs exclusively) it was just another endearing feature of Debs nature and was so totally recognised not only in the hundreds of messages and cards we received after losing Debs, but also in the number of people who attended Debs funeral. For any of those people reading this page I am very grateful for your lovely comments made about my amazing wife.

The logo for ‘Debs Always’ was taken from the wedding anniversary card Debs sent me last year. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve looked at this card and thought of Debs. Deb’s liked to personalise cards and this card now means everything to me as it represents more than words could the relationship we shared. It’s so right, True Love Never Dies.

I still struggle to believe what has happened over what is nearly the course of a year. We’ll soon start to hit the ‘anniversaries’ of that awful, terrible time and being honest it’s something I am dreading. This form of cancer is devastating, yet in terms of resources, research, and development of treatments, relatively little progress seems to have been made in improving outcomes when compared to other forms of cancer. Hopefully ‘Deb’s Story’ will help inspire people to focus on improving the prospects for people blighted by this condition in the future.

‘Deb’s Always’ is one of the ways I can help in this aim and I intend to spend as much time and effort as possible, alongside my two great kids and all the rest of our family and friends in raising funds for BTRS. It is also my personal tribute to honour my amazing wife, her spirit, her dignity, her courage, her grace and her beauty.

Debs, you will remain:

Always Loved

Always in our heart’s

Always remembered

Always our beautiful, amazing mum

Always the best friend anyone could wish for

Always and forever the one love of my life. I will love you Always

Written by John Grady, Deb's husband
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