The legacy of Amelia Page’s tragic death

When you hear of a widower spending his first Christmas and new year without his wife, a guy in his 20s who runs a company selling bandanas and baseball caps might not be the first image that comes to mind.

But for Luke Skinnader, aged 28, from Donegal, who watched his beautiful wife, Amelia, die from cancer just weeks after their first wedding anniversary, there has been nothing typical about their whole situation.

From small details such as her being a couple of years older than him when they met in Dubai, to the body-blow of a cancer diagnosis a few months later, their relationship has not run a usual ‘young romance’ course.

Luke met Amelia Page when they were both working in Dubai in 2018. They immediately hit it off.

“We fell head over heels for each other,” recalls Luke.

Speaking last year, Amelia added: “It was that Irish accent. We connected straight away — it’s bizarre because you only read about it in fairytales.” It’s a testament to the positivity the pair were just bursting with that they used the term ‘fairytale’ to describe their situation given that just eight months into their relationship Amelia got the news about her cancer.

She had stomach pains so they went for tests. It was stomach cancer.

The pair decided to meet the situation ‘head-on’. They moved home to Amelia’s family in Wales as she began treatment.

Amelia asked husband, Luke, to carry on the business after she died.
Amelia asked husband, Luke, to carry on the business after she died.

Luke even managed a positive spin on all this as he says he was just so excited to bring his new girlfriend to Donegal to meet his family and friends there.

Amelia’s cancer treatment meant she lost her hair.

“I was as bald as when I came out of the womb. I didn’t want to wear a wig and I didn’t want to wear hats that screamed ‘chemotherapy’. Not that I am bothered about what other people think, but I didn’t want that for me,” Amelia noted.

She and Luke decided to embrace her hair loss with quirky headwear accessories that they felt reflected her style and personality. They tried bandanas and hats but they just didn’t suit her — they wouldn’t stay on or weren’t comfortable. So out came the sketchbook and they designed some that would work for Amelia. From there they came up with the idea of setting up a business so other people in a similar situation might benefit.

And in a characteristic ‘head-on’ approach they named the business Fvck Cancer and proudly note on their website that they’re ‘giving the middle finger to cancer’.

In the meantime, Luke and Amelia also had a wedding to plan. They got married in Donegal in Sept 2019. Instead of trying to cover it up or disguise it, Amelia totally rocked the ‘bald’ look — pictures taken at Glenveagh National Park and Castle and at the party in the marquee at Luke’s home wouldn’t look out of place in any glossy fashion magazine.

Luke Skinnader and Amelia got married in Donegal in September 2019.
Luke Skinnader and Amelia got married in Donegal in September 2019.

Amelia had originally only been given months to live but more than 30 rounds of chemo and pioneering treatments — as well as her grit and Luke’s support — saw her keep going for another two years.

Amelia tried to explain her positivity: “It’s naturally ingrained, there are so many people who do things to try and be positive. I don’t really try. Luke and my sister are amazing and I’ve got so many amazing people around me. I never feel like I’m on my own, we’ve got the business to focus on, I’ve been having some really good news, we get hiccups now and again. I’m just grateful for all the experiences I’ve had in life, the people I’ve met. With Luke around me, it comes easy.” Shortly after their first wedding anniversary, Amelia died.

Despite — or perhaps because of — his grief, Luke decided to carry on with the Fvck Cancer accessories business.

“When I’m working on this project it feels like I’m still working with her,” he explains.

He recalls that every time they got a sale on their website she would get up and do a little dance of delight and excitement. Now, the website is doing so well that Luke reckons “she’s dancing all the time now in heaven”.

Amelia specifically asked Luke to carry on with the website as she felt it was so important and he says this is something he’s keen to do now.

The online store has become a community for young cancer fighters, and a portion of sales are donated to the Teens Unite Fighting Cancer in Britain.

They have also teamed up with Converse head office in Boston — Converse was Amelia’s favourite brand.

And Luke managed to get Entourage star, Jeremy Piven, to give a celeb endorsement too.

Jeremy Piven, Entourage, endorses fvckcancer
Jeremy Piven, Entourage, endorses fvckcancer

New patterns for the beanies and caps are being added — check @fvckcancerfashion for these.

Luke says: “During the pandemic charities have been hit quite hard, but because we’ve quite successful in the last few months we have been able to donate a much larger amount than anticipated. It helps our passion, giving back to our community and do what we love in the process. The more we grow they more we can support.”

Five tips for dealing with chemotherapy

Amelia and Luke were so keen to ‘live your best life’ that she came up with a few tips to help other people going through gruelling chemo treatment.

Amelia Page for Caroline Delaney
Amelia Page for Caroline Delaney

Peppermint tea – Some people find that peppermint tea helps with sickness. It is thought that it helps to slow down the gut. Amelia had a hard time managing her nausea but peppermint tea relieved the sickly feeling and it’s always nice having an alternative to yet again more pills. Anything ginger is also a good option.

Go Easy On Yourself – Don’t give yourself a hard time if you really don’t feel like eating for a few days after chemotherapy. It is very important that you drink, but you can make up for lost calories between treatments. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe nutritional drinks that you can have as well as regular meals if you are worried about losing weight.

Avoid Your Favourite Food. Do not eat your favourite food if you are feeling nauseated. This may create a negative association with that food and the next time you try to eat it, your favourite food may cause you to feel queasy. Amelia learned this the hard way. She couldn’t even look at some of her favourite meals after. Instead, have foods that are easy to digest such as crackers, toast, yogurt, potato, broth, or rice.

Hot Water Bottles – Amelia found that the heat helped with any of her cancer pains. Another useful tip we found out along the way is that hot water bottles are good for plumping your veins making it easier for the nurses with needles. Be careful not to overuse the hot water bottles too though as this can be quite dangerous if used excessively. Another thing we found out along the way.

Don’t Be Afraid To Accept And Ask For Help – Chemotherapy and all the drugs are going to wipe you out. You need to conserve your energy as much as possible. It may feel daunting and frustrating having to pass responsibility to friends and family but remember you have the hardest job out of all of us – FIGHTING CANCER. Best save your energy for that where possible! This was probably one of the things Amelia found most difficult as she was so independent and feisty… in her last week in the hospital she saw me making a bed on the floor beside her and got up to sleep in the arm chair. She then told me to sleep in the bed. I was absolutely gobsmacked by her selflessness! (I obviously sent her straight back to bed!!)

Online there are links to tutorials on how to make a mask from a bandana and how to tie a bandana, etc.

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