a launch, a wedding and a funeral
November 18, 2019
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November 18, 2019
1 May 2019. It was the day I’d been relentlessly gearing up to since I left my job two years prior. Everything was in place – influencers, launch creative, online store, warehouse, you name it.
9am came and the buzz didn’t disappoint – influencer reviews were overwhelmingly positive, our Instagram following rocketed, we were approached by press for features, and Beauty Bay contacted us about listing on their site. To top it all off, we even had orders from people who didn’t share my surname! We were absolutely thrilled that all our hard work and determination over the past few years had been so well received.
I left the Allbright Club, where I had been working that day, and stepped onto Oxford St with such a spring in my step, nothing could bring me down. That was until I got the call.
After calling in the morning to see how the launch was going, my parents called again that evening. I was excited to share the latest news but it was immediately clear they didn’t share this enthusiasm. While I’d been on an absolute high, they’d been to the hospital as Dad had taken a bad turn. He was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer nine months prior, and the chemo had stopped working.
It had been a real shock when we originally found out Dad’s diagnosis – as a fit 65-year-old who had presented to the hospital with mild stomach pains, cancer was the furthest thing from our minds. But, alas, cancer it was, and my family and I had been through the most traumatic nine months of our lives. Dad was originally given three months to live, but luckily for us he defied medical odds, responding to chemo with minimal side-effects. But, there was always going to come a time when chemo could no longer keep the cancer at bay. And this was that moment.
The days that followed we waited on further scans to get a full picture, but come the weekend (just a few days after launching Beached) I was on a flight back to Australia as my Dad’s liver was going into failure.
In all the excitement about Beached, I forgot to mention I got engaged! My then gorgeous Irish boyfriend, Peter proposed to me on the beach where he grew up after asking my Dad for my hand. As Dad’s treatment was going well, we had planned a wedding at the end of June in Mallorca. My Mum and Dad were born and raised in South London and Dad was desperate to make one last visit to his home, so it made sense to do it over this side of the world and give him something to look forward to.
Unfortunately given Dad’s latest turn it became clear this wasn’t going to happen. So, our amazing friends and Aussie ‘family’ organised a wedding for us in just three days! They thought of absolutely everything – you’d have thought it had been months in the making – and the big day was beautiful in ways I simply couldn’t describe.
But, of course, it was heart-wrenching at the same time. The surgeons had stayed back late two days prior to put stents in my Dad’s liver so that it would drain and he’d be well enough to make it. Fortunately, this op ended up giving him another month, so my Mum, brothers, sister-in-law and I all stayed in our family home caring for Dad right up until the very end.
After a painful battle my Dad, Stephen Gallagher died peacefully the evening of Thursday 13 June with the entire family by his side.
Two reasons: 1) I can’t tell you about the launch of Beached without telling you about the loss of my Father and my marriage which all happened in the first two months of launch; and 2) I’m the Founder of a purpose-driven brand that places high value on openness and transparency. Not sharing something that has had such a profound impact on my life, just doesn’t seem right to me. We all have our battles, and this has been my toughest by far.
My Dad was a big character, my biggest cheer leader and a very present Father. He will live on through my brothers and I in everything we do as he has taught us so much. He taught us family comes first and to surround yourself with loyal, genuine friends; he taught us to be bold and not give two hoots about what people think of us; he taught us to work hard, but play harder; he taught us to get an education and pursue our dreams; and he taught us life is precious. I truly hope you can see these values come through in Beached.
I know this doesn’t make for easy reading, but thanks for staying with me. In my next blog I’m looking forward to sharing a frank look at what I’ve learnt since launch.
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