September 17th 2023.
Katy Vincent has fond memories of her childhood friend, Miranda Filmer.
“There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of her. She was one of a kind,” Katy says.
The two met when they were just 11-years-old, and their friendship endured through university, jobs, and relationships.
“We had a sisterly bond. We worked hard and we partied hard too. She was my partner in crime,” Katy fondly recalls.
But five years ago, Miranda, a keen horse rider and sportswoman, was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the disease.
Katy remembers her friend’s determination to keep living life as normally as possible, despite the gruelling treatment. “She never wanted her illness to impact her work,” Katy adds.
In June of 2022, Miranda passed away at the age of 30. Her legacy reminds those around her to live life as she did: “for what and who she loved.”
Katy and Miranda became close friends soon after they met. They went on summer holidays to Cornwall, and Miranda was the “glue” that held their friendship group together.
It was a huge shock when Miranda was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25. She had been suffering with stomach pains, and after several trips to A&E, she was eventually diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer.
Katy explains: “She just dropped it into conversation one day. She really played it down and said it wasn’t a big deal.”
In the years that followed her diagnosis, Miranda underwent gruelling treatment at the Royal Free, including surgery on her spine and chemotherapy.
Katy says: “A lot of the time, because Miranda didn’t want to make a fuss, you could be in denial that she was unwell. She still rode her horses as much as she could and went out walking with her dogs.”
But by early 2022, Miranda’s aggressive tumours were not responding to treatment.
Katy says: “I remember her telling me she knew that things had got bad, because her doctors were happy for her to go wherever and do whatever she wanted – she knew at that point that they’d run out of options.”
Five days after that call, Katy went to visit Miranda and was shocked by how tired and frail she looked.
Katy says it was only in the weeks before her death that Miranda began to speak about death and dying.
She says: “Miranda was desperately sad for her parents and her family, because they’d put so much time and energy into trying to get her well again. But she had lived life to the fullest for 30 years.”
Miranda passed away on 10 June, surrounded by her family.
Katy says: “It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to try and grieve your best friend. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her courageous battle, surviving way beyond the odds, and living for what and who she loved.”
In tribute to her best friend, Katy decided to walk the distance between their childhood homes – about a marathon. She says: “It was Miranda’s dad who suggested I raise some money. As I’m in the military, I decided to do it in full kit to make it a bit more of a challenge and encourage people to donate.”
So on April 4, Katy set off on her challenge, accompanied by her dog Tia and Miranda’s dad, Charles.
They were joined along the way by Miranda’s loved ones, including her Labrador, Kili.
Katy spent the day walking in full military gear, sharing memories of Miranda and chatting about what an incredible person she was.
So far, Katy’s efforts have raised over £5,500 for the Royal Free, and the Miranda Filmer Fund has raised over £400,000.
Now, she continues to try to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, while always remembering her dear friend.
Katy says: “Miranda was a strong, determined individual, and she’s taught me not to faff around when there’s something you want to do in life. She must have been in constant agony, but she was never going to let that stop her.”
In Miranda’s memory, Katy is encouraging people to donate to the Miranda Filmer Fund.
Katy and Miranda shared precious memories over the years, and Katy’s tribute walk is a beautiful way to honour her best friend’s legacy.
Katy says: “She had lived life to the fullest for 30 years, and I wanted to do something to remember her and keep her memory alive.”
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