The story of Stuart Hugh Cormack.
Who Stuart Cormack Was To SEOFife.
SEOFife was founded just after we had finished University – we had both fallen into the, largely ignored gap, of getting used to a full time, meaningless and not so graduate employment. The years in University are defiantly the best days of your life and we knew it – we knew they were over. The previous year was the best of all too; we stayed up late, drunk beer in the flat or at the Curly Coo, played too many video games, all in the company of our 3 other brothers- Jack, Panashe and Stuart. We had known each other for nearly four years at this point.
We ended University after each building four friendships that we hoped would last a lifetime.
‘I met Stuart in my very first Freshers week at a Drama society meeting. From the moment I met him he showed a unique kindness to me and a genuine sense to want to get to know who I was and what my story was about and I will always appreciate him for that. During our time at university, I would get to know him better and beneath each layer would reveal a man with a beautiful soul.
I thank God for the times that we shared’ – Panashe Bopoto, (Longtime friend and Flatmate in 4th year)
From day one, Stuart Hugh Cormack was hard to miss. He was 6ft5, made everybody laugh and fit right into the big, little brother suit. Sam, was instantly the closest to Stuart (apart from both being well over 6ft) and already acquaintances from high school in North Berwick but we all learned to love his gentle soul, absolutely hilarious and sometimes absurd sense of humour. Stuart was the guy who introduced everyone in the flat to their new favourite series, film, album, comedian, author, artist, play, comic… you name it. He knew it and knew something you would like. (He and Sam made me watch ‘The Room’- it sums up Stu’s sense of humour to a T).
Stuart was a one-off. One of those special editions’s that fit their own box.
‘I mean, Stuart wasn’t just a person- he was an experience. He never did have a great deal of time for the mundanities of life, instead doing things his way…. because tasting pasta to see if it was cooked was just too boring for Stuart, he had to fling it at the wall and basically redecorate the kitchen with spaghetti’ – Conor Healy (Flat mate for 1st, Second and Third Year of University)
Stuart died on Wednesday the 6th of July 2016 after a short battle with predominately Liver cancer. – he had spent 22 years, 364 days on this planet and passed away only 5 weeks after his diagnosis.
He reported to have been feeling unwell around March time this year- there was nothing serious but he knew something wasn’t quite right. He said he didn’t feel like eating something and his stomach was a bit bloated. After a couple of weeks we met up with Stuart for a couple of drinks and he was looking rather thin; it was completely normal with him feeling off. His stomach was enlarged but he thought it was to do with drinking gassy fluids- so he avoided beer.
Two weeks later Stuart was admitted to Hospital. He had gone in for a further check up to get to the bottom of his stomach problems as he was feeling significantly more unwell. Fearing an infection (which the medical staff later confirmed) they found his bloods to be off and decided to send him to the hospital – what they found was multiple tumours on his Appendix, Liver and Peritoneum.
Stuart was then admitted to the Teenage Cancer Unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. He had now been diagnosed with cancer he was set about to fighting the raging infection that had started in his body. The action plan was to fight the infection and then look at Chemo Therapy to deal with the cancer. Although, the ward was full of other very sick people the doctors and nurse’s worked endlessly and tirelessly to help not just Stuart but also his family- they were also incredibly supportive of any visitors, even if they were more than slightly outside the designated hours. Words cannot express how grateful Stuart and his family were for their expertise, support and extra million miles they went every day, for them and for each and every patient under their care. Their calm reassurance, expert advice and genuine level of understanding is a credit to the Hospital and to the NHS itself.
It was here that Stuart and his family were given the news that Stuart was not going to be strong enough for Chemo and that his cancer was terminal.
‘Stuart had nothing but good things to say about [The Teenage Cancer Unit] (even if he did talk about his balls and his bowles more than is considered polite!) and I don’t think I would’ve been able to deal with the news without your wonderful unit’ – Isla MacLean (Stuarts Wife)
Please have a look at the Units donation page and help a little so they can further their support of young, people suffering from cancer of all forms.
Not too long after Stuart’s bad news, he was moved to the St Columbus Hospice in Edinburgh. To tell the truth, the Hospice is beautiful – very calm, tranquil and picturesque. It was a hard transition for Stuart to make however, they made everything so welcoming and so much easier to deal with. The hospice were so, so accommodating and did everything in their power to help Stuart achieve his final wishes; they hosted and orchestrated Stuart’s and Isla’s wedding and helped bring together family and friends to celebrate the occasion. As Isla perfectly sums it up; ‘No one plans to die at 22, but of all places he could have gone, I’m thankful he went there’.
The St Columbus Hospice didn’t simply help Stuart in his final days, but maybe hundreds of people a year. They support, council, advise, comfort and accommodate everything the can in their power – with a profound level of thought care and compassion. To die is a strangely abstract, scary and surreal concept, but when you are facing that reality, it is something special to have that guiding hand, with friends surrounded and guided until the end.
The Hospice put Stuarts family up, in beds so that they were closer to him and supplied free tea and coffee to visitors. The St Columbus hospice in Edinburgh has become very close to my heart.
Once again the St Columbus Hospice operates from the kindness of donations– if you can spare a little it would be a fantastic gift to send somebody away in peace and tranquility of mind.
He ‘left a Stuart shaped hole in our lives’ (Words of His father) and he is somebody who will be so very hard to forget.
Please help us contribute to The Teen Cancer Trust and St Coulombs, two wonderful charities that made Stuart’s treatment the best possible, and help them provide the same care to others!
We later found out, after analysis, that Stuart had a particularly rare form of cancer called ‘Linitis Plastica’ which is more common in the Far East, but growing more common in Europeans. People Under 40 and those as young as 20-25 are slightly more affected. What is striking about this form of cancer is that it is currently almost always fatal, even before there are any noticeable symptoms, as it invades the deep layers of the stomach lining and quickly spreads to the vital organs. As a diffuse cancer there is no solid mass to see which makes it very hard to detect, almost invisible to an endoscopy. Even if detected early and the stomach is removed, it just keeps coming back. As it was described to us- ‘Its a completely hopeless, aggressive cancer’.
In Memory of Stuco- Stuart Cormack
When Stuart passed away, I think everyone looked inwards. If there is one thing, I certainly learned was that it drew attention to how I was living my life. Stuart managed to fulfil one dream- to ride the Transserbian railway line. It is a trip he had spoken about for the whole time we knew him and he had finally booked it for a little later this year; he sadly didn’t make the trip.
‘I’ve been sitting here for ages thinking – Im rubbish with words and nothing I can think feels good enough for him. All of his bad traits were completely overshadowed when you laugh. The amount of people that turned up to his funeral shows how many people really love and miss him’ – Tara Copic (Flatmate, first second and third year of University)
It was made abundantly clear at Stuarts funeral by all speakers that nobody plans to die, never mind at nearly twenty three years of age. So if there is something that you are waiting to do, go and do it! If you can’t because you have work, or have don’t have the time- make the time and go. Enjoy the life that we have been given and spend it doing the things you want to do – spare no effort in making your dreams come true.
Stuart was a fantastic artist and story writer – he had developed a collection of drawing and story boards for it but never had the confidence to put his work out there. The final dream that Stuart fulfilled was to see his comic compiled together, completed and published by two of his long term friends. He is said to have beamed with happiness and he passed away later that evening.
Here Are some memories we, and a very small portion of Stuarts Many, Many friends wish to share.
In loving memory of Stuart Cormack – We love you and will miss you with all of our hearts.