A mother of two with stage four cancer has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to make memories and help pay for her own funeral.
Tiffany Ryan, 38, from Clapham, west Sussex, was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer in April last year after suffering from an itchy collar bone.
Despite being treated with chemotherapy and radiation, the disease spread to her lungs and pelvis and is now incurable.
The full-time carer is now planning her own funeral to take the pressure of her husband and two children when she is gone.
Her GoFundMe page has so far raised more than £5,000, which she will spend on making memories with her children, but if she raises more, the money will go to potential funeral costs.
Tiffany Ryan (pictured) set up a Go Fund Me page to pay for the cost of her funeral and for days out as a family
She is also hoping to raise awareness of cancer in young women – saying it is only aged 50 that women get preventative mammogram screenings.
Tiffany said: ‘Funerals are expensive. The average costs about £5,000 – so doing that along with everyday expenses and the mortgage is really difficult.
‘Obviously, being 38 I haven’t put aside any provisions for this.
What are the signs of breast cancer?
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
A change to the colour of the breast
A change to the nipple
Unusual discharge from a nipple
Changes in breast size or shape
On its own, pain in your breasts is not usually a sign of breast cancer. But look out for pain in your breast or armpit that’s there all or almost all the time.
Although rare, men can get breast cancer. The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump in the chest area.
‘I am raising the £5,000 for my family so we can make memories, but if I raise anymore than that, it will likely go towards the cost of my funeral, hopefully down the line.
‘I also want to use the campaign to raise awareness that this happens to young women too.’
Speaking about planning her funeral, which she hopes will be years away, she added: ‘I’ve decided on a female funeral director, who I feel really comfortable with.
‘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.’
She added that she didn’t want a ‘boring brown coffin’ but one covered in daffodils.
Tiffany’s ordeal began last year when she went to the doctors with a hot, itchy collar bone.
She was then diagnosed with breast cancer and told it had spread to her lungs and lymph nodes.
She underwent a mastectomy and months of gruelling treatment, but was told in January this year that the disease had spread further into her lungs and pelvis.
Doctors have said that, as the disease is now incurable they do not know how she long has left to live.
Tiffany is hoping she will live for years and that she will defy the negative prognosis.
But as well as dealing with the news, she has only been faced with financial worries.
Tiffany (pictured with her family) says she doesn’t want to leave her doting husband Matt, 39, having to prepare the details of her funeral when she passes
Matt will be left to look after the couple’s two children after Tiffany sadly dies. Pictured, Matt and their two children, who they do not wish to name
Tiffany has been told her cancer is incurable – but she doesn’t know how long she has left
She is a full-time carer to her eight-year-old son who has autism, while her husband, Matt, 39, works in IT.
But finding enough money to pay for everything, as well as covering the mortgage and bills, is proving difficult.
She told the i that she received universal credit of around £886 a month, plus a PIP payment of £634.
As she is a carer, she also gets a carers’ allowance of £285 a month.
Her husband, meanwhile, earns £1,900 a month.
But she said that cancer had a great impact on younger people’s finances and that grants from cancer charities were hard to get.
She added that she was not able to work and so had no real way of saving up to pay for her funeral or day trips out with her children to make memories.
She added: ‘All of this is really hard on my husband. 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, but it is very strange planning my own funeral while some mums I know on the school run are still having children.’
Her fundraising page – which has so far raised more than £5,000 from well-wishers – was set up to help pay for her making memories with her children.
On the page, a heartfelt message from Tiffany reads: ‘I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2022. It is incurable.
‘I have fought this battle hard, undergoing 6x rounds of chemo, side effects and was hospitalised in August with Sepsis and Liver Failure as a direct result of chemo.
‘To be told it is untreatable is devastating.
‘I now worry for my childrens’ future and want to put some provision in place for them or make some everlasting memories with them.
‘I’m also determined to raise awareness that the usual age for a woman in the UK to receive a mammogram is age 50.
‘I’m not sure what memories I will make with my children just yet, only that some memories are unaffordable.
‘I envisioned spending birthdays and Christmases with them and celebrating important occasions. Instead, I am looking into funeral plans.
‘I know that I am on borrowed time and it is scary to process. Any donations will be appreciated and i will upload photos, videos and make a contribution to a UK cancer charity.’
In a later post, she thanked well-wishers for their donations.
She wrote: ‘Thank you so much for all your donations. I’m grateful for all your support, prayers and well wishes.
‘It is such a worry to have any life limiting illness with two young children and I wanted to raise awareness of cancer in younger women, the symptoms, and the financial and emotional impact it has whilst living with cancer.
‘Cancer doesn’t define me, I am still a mother, wife, carer and daughter.’
Doctors say they don’t know how long Tiffany has left, so she is preparing for any eventuality by making ‘memory capsules’ with video messages and letters to her children.
In spite of her diagnosis, Tiffany says that she feels ‘totally normal’ and is not in pain at all.
Tiffany Ryan with her husband, Matt, and two children. Sadly, her cancer has spread to her lungs and pelvis, and was now untreatable – leaving her preparing her own funeral.
Tiffany’s heartbreaking message asking for money to help pay for costs such as making memories with her children and paying for her funeral
‘I think the strangest part is that I do not feel sick, but I know that I only have so much time,’ she said.
‘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.
‘I think at first I just went into a state of denial. I asked for a second opinion, drug trials – anything that would prolong it. There was a lot of anger, sadness, depression and anxiety.
‘I didn’t know whether to tell people, I just sat at home and let it sink in for a while.
‘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 Matt are now booking time away from home as a family to make memories, while her children do not as yet know about her condition.
Tiffany added: ‘It’s hard to arrange spending time away together, booking holidays abroad is especially complicated because I would need to be near hospitals.
‘If something happened I could become stuck abroad – so we’re only booking holidays in the UK for the moment.