Ellie Jeffery inspired thousands. She amused them, comforted them – and moved them with her sheer determination to defy the odds. On her blog, writtenoff.net, she documented her fight against what became terminal cancer, resolute that she would beat the disease doctors said she couldn’t.
Sadly, on May 18 last year – just three weeks before her wedding day aged just 29 – Ellie passed away. But though she’s no longer here, her enthusiasm for life and much-loved character lives on through her fiancé Tom Thostrup, who’s determined that Ellie will never be forgotten.
“I don’t remember much about how I coped in the first few weeks after Ellie passed away,” Tom explained. “The grief was overwhelming, but somehow illusory. I missed her terribly – I still do. I haven’t been able to bring myself to move any of her belongings; the flat we shared is the same as when she was here too – and, right now, I have no intention of moving on. Ellie is my fiancée, I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”
In an attempt to cope with the loss, Tom threw himself into his job as a TV producer of comedy programmes - and set to work on making sure Ellie’s life was celebrated in the best way possible.
“In May 2011, after she received the news that the cancer had spread to her bones, Ellie started a blog, writtenoff.net. It gained thousands of followers.
“Working on the charity I feel close to Ellie. By helping potentially thousands of others in a similar situation to her, just as Ellie’s words helped them in life, I know she’ll never be forgotten. Being diagnosed with cancer is just the start of it – there are so many pressures that are rarely mentioned: the financial impact of having to give up work, paying for trips to the hospital, organic food; the eternal boredom and depression that sets in during recovery from chemo. This is what I hope to alleviate through Ellie’s Friends – I want to encourage individuals and businesses to offer their skills, services and products to people living with cancer.”
For Tom, since Ellie’s death, nothing is more important than doing something worthwhile in her name. “With Ellie’s death it felt as if my emotional life ended too. But I’m so grateful for every second we spent together. Ellie’s my fiancée, the first person I fell in love with and I have no doubt the only person I’ll love as much. I can’t let her go. Instead, I’ll make sure her memory lives on.”
If you have a service or product you could offer to Ellie's Friends, please visit eleanorrose.org/ellies.friends. To donate to the charity, click here and to read the full interview with Tom, pick up this week's issue of Grazia