Rowena Kincaid, a BBC picture editor and star of documentary Before I Kick the Bucket, has sadly passed away, with her heartfelt farewell letter read at her funeral.
Rowena, 40, made the two programmes following her through her terminal cancer diagnosis after doctors broke the news that the breast cancer she was first diagnosed with seven years ago had come back. They focused on how Rowena would spend the time she had left.
Number one on her bucket list was reaching her 40th birthday, something doctors said would never happen, yet she celebrated it with a costume ball at Cardiff Castle.
Her funeral was attended by hundreds, and her sister read out her farewell letter to everyone who attended:
‘It’s a little surreal writing this, and it’s hard to imagine myself not being alive anymore, while I do. But at least I can, and have the opportunity to do so.
‘I will miss this world. To not be able to wake and see the sun in the sky, feel the wind and the rain on my face, taking the air deep into my lungs.
‘Listening to music, or all the sounds I love to hear. To touch all the things around me, simple things; stroking a pet and hugging a loved one, tasting food or kisses. The world has much beauty to offer, much we take for granted. I learned not to in the end.
‘I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given, and I am lucky I could experience what this world had to offer, everyone and every opportunity that fell into my path.
‘I will miss all of you, who I have loved and the fun I was still to have; making out with hot guys, partying and making a success of my career, but my last chapter was written and now it’s complete.
‘I guess this is goodbye and thank you…Thank you for all the fun times; when I’ve worked with you, partied with you, laughed with you and loved you.
‘Keep me in your hearts, as I promise I will do the same as I go.
‘As much as I will be resting, know this: I will not be completely at rest because I never intended to leave, nor do I like missing out on what’s going on!!
‘Seriously, if I can, I’ll see you at my wake…..I’m not one to miss out on a good party!! So, please do not say RIP instead, know I’m merely sleeping tight.
‘If there is any wisdom I can share with you it would be this:
‘Be forever kind to yourself. Know your body and listen to your gut instincts at all times.
‘Follow what it tells you and have faith in what you feel from it, it’s there to protect you. I listened well and it looked after me for as much as it could.
‘Acknowledge your weaknesses, as to do so is also a strength. To fight them or focus on them is a waste of time. So concentrate on the positives, then more positivity and strength will come your way.
‘Remember a problem is only as big as you make it, no matter how bad it seems there are always solutions, and can always be overcome. It will only last as long as you allow it to.
‘You can do what ever you dream. Don’t stop yourself from living it, as it will only be you that does – You are the boss of your life, you have more control than you realise.
‘Slow down sometimes and look around. Life does move fast and time is not your friend.
‘Make time for the small things, the things we take for granted, as you will be surprised how good that feels. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, why wait?
‘Love, but don’t fall in love with the idea of love.
‘Everyone you meet in your life will teach you something, whether they are in it for a short time, or forever. What they teach you, in time, you will see is a gift.
‘Always and never forget; to believe in yourself.
‘These are just some of my own rules I have lived by, if it helps you as well; my job is done!
‘I want you to know I did fight hard and I didn’t give in easily, I’m only gone because my body malfunctioned! Cheers for that, 30 double F’s !……I stayed as long as I could, I promise.
‘I will miss you all, and many of you know how much I love you, even if it was left unsaid. Please look after each other, and try not to be too sad, keep me with you. Finally, I’ll remind you that all legends die young, so that actually makes me really very cool indeed!
‘Goodbye everyone, promise me you’ll live your lives to the max and when you’re done, I’ll see you on the other side!
‘Lots and lots of love from Row xxxx.’
After Rowena’s death, BBC Cymru Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies had some kind words to say, calling Rowena a ‘wonderful, generous and life-enhancing colleague’.
‘Her courage and humour in confronting her illness inspired millions of viewers across the UK through the remarkable documentaries she made, which told a story about life much more than death,’ he reflected.