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Journalist tells ‘true love’ story from beyond the grave

A young journalist who lost his battle against leukaemia aged just 26 has told his moving story in a book published 18 months after his death.

Richard Woolley was a sub-editor with Johnston Press title the Ripley and Heanor News when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia at the age of 25.

He died in October 2009, 18 months after his diagnosis and a year after his wedding to wife Mary.

During his illness Richard kept a diary which his dad Mike has now had published as a  book, raising thousands of pounds for leukaemia research in the process.

In a note on the cover, Richard made clear he intended the journal to be published, describing it as a “book about life and a book about death.”

Said Mike: “I didn’t see the book until a year after he died. It was quite clear from what he wrote on the cover that it was his intention to get it published.”

The cover of Richard Woolley's book shows him with wife Mary

Written on the cover were the words:  ‘I have a five-inch scar on my chest, right hand side, pointing towards my heart. I look at it every day and it tells me who I am.

‘If you are looking at this book wondering what it’s about, allow me to tell you. It’s about one man’s experience of leukaemia and all the fun and games that go with it. It is, more broadly, a book about life and a book about death. But greater still, this is a love story. A story about how true love cannot be destroyed by things as trivial as cancer and death.

‘Some that remember me may do so in terms of my disease. That is to say, it will be the first thing they think of when they think of me and that I was taken so young.

‘But the leukaemia that took me was not the defining force in my life, nor was it the strongest. That will always be love, and if I do say so myself, how we managed to get it so right in the brevity of our time together.’

Added Mike:  “I read it and thought ‘Gosh, that’s so powerful’. Having seen that it was clear he wanted other people to see it.”

He added:  “He was an amazing guy. After going into remission he decided to run the London Marathon in 2009 to help others like him, but the cancer returned and he was unable to run. I’m immensely proud of him. I miss him like hell; he was more than a son to me, he was my best friend.”

Published earlier this year,  Leukaemia: My Marathon For Love, has already sold hundreds of copies. It is now being sold on Amazon and is set to be stocked in five libraries including one in London.

An extract from the book, described as a compelling, humorous and moving journal, is also set to appear in the Daily Mail this week.

Proceeds from the sale of each book goes to charity and together with the performance of two plays that Richard wrote, £3,000 has been raised for the Anthony Nolan Trust and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

Tabasco, performed at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield earlier this year, was written by Richard when he was a teenager and won him the Pomegranate Theatre’s annual New Playwright Competition.

Mike is currently organising a Forget-Me-Not charity day in memory of Richard. The event will be held at Rother Valley in Sheffield on 9 June 2012 and will include a dragon boat race.

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