Mum with 'months to live' forced to plan her own funeral after itch turned out to be terminal cancer
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A heartbroken mum has started to plan her own funeral, after a visit to the doctor about an 'itch' left her with an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis.
Tiffany Ryan, 37, had been suffering with what she thought was an 'itchy' muscular knot just below her collarbone, so went to the doctors last April to get it checked out.
After a biopsy and a mammogram, Tiffany was shocked to learn she had stage-2 breast cancer and would have to get a mastectomy.
The mum, from Clapham West Sussex, thought that was the end of it, but in January 2023, a follow-up appointment found that the cancer had spread to her lungs and pelvis and was now untreatable.
In the hopes of saving her husband Matt, 39, some work, Tiffany, who was given eight months to live, has gotten to work planning her own funeral, and has already picked out her coffin.
"I've decided on a female funeral director, who I feel really comfortable with," said Tiffany, who works as a permanent carer for her autistic eight-year-old son.
"I want my funeral to be a positive event. I'm not particularly religious, but my children love to go to our local church - so I don't want the event to be there.
"Instead I'm going to have a 'green funeral' in an outdoors woodland area. My children shouldn't have to see me be cremated at the church they love.
"I want them to feel comfortable there and safe when I'm gone - not to have it constantly remind them of my death.
"All of this is really hard on my husband too, he wants to take things just one week at a time, sorting out issues like power of attorney and wills. I don't want him to have to deal with that later though.
"Funerals are also expensive. The average funeral costs about £5,000 - so doing that along with everyday expenses and the mortgage is really difficult."
Tiffany has also been preparing 'memory capsules' with video messages and letters from her to her young children, who are aged three and eight.
The strange thing for Tiffany is that, despite being given months to live, she says she feels 'totally normal' and in no pain at all.
"I think the strangest part is that I do not feel sick, but I know that I only have so much time.
"I'm not in pain, I'm still doing the normal school run and going to hospital while my children are in school.
"Doctors have told me that it's inoperable now. The one thing they could do was give me a tablet to slow it down - but that's it."
She continued: "I'm now having to compress all of these Christmases, birthdays and other special occasions into a very short amount of time.
"It's horrible knowing that my children might not even remember my voice, so I'm planning on making recordings of myself as well as leaving them birthday gifts and notes."
Tiffany and her husband Matt are also finding time to build memories together - booking time away from home as a family while her children do not know about her condition.
Supported by charities Depha UK and Disability Expo, the family are planning to go away to stay in a log cabin at the end of March, followed by a 'glamping' holiday later this year.
Tiffany has since set up a GoFundMe to put money toward making memories with her kids before she passes. You can donate here.