Caroline Jones’s cat had always been quite lively and would sometimes nibble her ears.
So when she found a blood blister behind her right ear, she presumed she’d been bitten by her playful pet again.
But a visit to the doctor revealed that wasn’t the case.
The blister just didn’t look right and Caroline was sent for tests.
And as a result of those tests, the mum-of-two was told she had a cancerous tumour in January 2010. In September, she was told it was terminal.
Sadly Caroline died only five weeks ago, aged 52, from a malignant melanoma.
On Saturday night her husband Christopher, 53, and their children Dan, 24, and Louise, 22, joined hundreds of others taking part in the Moonlit Memories Walk to remember her.
The 12-mile walk through Southsea raises money for The Rowans Hospice in Purbrook and that’s where Caroline spent the last few days of her life.
‘It was our first ever walk for the Rowans and we all enjoyed every moment,’ says Christopher.
‘It was for a great cause and I’m sure we will now make it a yearly event.
‘My sister-in-law and my friend also had cancer so there were a few people we remembered while taking part in the walk.’
He adds: ‘Caroline will be sadly missed both as a devoted wife and a loving mum. We want to thank the Rowans Hospice for all they did for us and what they do for others.’
The family, from Cowplain, have fond memories of Caroline being fit and healthy before her diagnosis. The news that she had cancer came as a real shock to them all.
‘It was fortunate the doctor didn’t like the look of the blood blister and put her forward for further screening as it was from that we realised she had a cancerous tumour on her ear,’ explains Christopher.
‘Surgeons removed the tip of her right ear to help and then eventually her whole ear.
‘She was then having radiotherapy, which caused secondary cancer to the face. It made the skin on her face and neck go quite scaly.’
Dan, a trainee ambulance technician, adds: ‘Before the cancer she had been gardening and doing everything else around the house. Then afterwards it all went downhill. For the last six weeks she dropped like a rock.
‘It was really difficult when we found out. Doing the job I do, I see other people go through similar things, which means I can’t really forget.’
Remembering her last few days, Louise says: ‘Our dad had been at the hospice when mum passed away.
‘It was about 10.15am and he was calling me and my brother telling us to come to the hospice. But we were too late.’
Dan adds: ‘It is something we will never forget and you have to take everything day by day.
‘Sometimes you have up days and sometimes you have down days. Some days you get a certain memory and things come back to you.’