Babette's Condition


This morning's email is just about Babette. And perhaps it's not for the faint hearted. No sales spiel this week.

On Monday morning, Babette and I had an appointment with Felicity Patterson, the oncologist, and Liz Darragh, the breast cancer nurse, who have been looking after her throughout her ordeal. At this meeting we filled in a “respect Form” that stated clearly Babette’s preferences, so far as future care was concerned. Amongst other things it says that she wants quality of life, not quantity / length of life, so for instance, she does not want to be resuscitated if it comes to it.

As a result of the advance of her cancer, we all agreed that more chemo would only weaken her further, so the emphasis is to be on ensuring that she is pain free.

On Tuesday morning this week, I woke to find Babette’s breathing to be very heavy, but as she was still sleeping, which was unusual and I felt good, I eventually left for work, only to be called a couple of hours later by Jeanne, who had ended up calling the ambulance because she couldn’t wake her mother. I arrived back home as the paramedics were assessing her. We ended up flying (almost literally, driven, I suspect by Sterling Moss in a green uniform) to East Surrey Hospital (Redhill). Her blood sugar levels were very low and it turned out she had a lot of liquid in the “bag” around her heart (the pericardium) which was constricting its operation. This is a life threatening condition in itself, never mind what cancer is also doing to her. Breathing was obviously very stressful for Babette and also painful, despite the large doses of morphine that she’s on.

The consultant, James Sneddon, was cautious about the procedure for draining the bag, as he had doubts that she would survive it, but equally didn’t feel she had long in her current condition either. We asked him to go ahead with the procedure and I’m pleased to say that it was successful, and she returned to the ward looking much more peaceful and breathing relatively normally again. She is, nonetheless, very ill and I’m afraid she doesn’t have long to live, in all probability. On top of that she is sleeping most of the time and when conscious is rarely lucid. If I’ve understood it correctly this is in part, at least, because of the lack of oxygen to the brain.

It probably goes without saying that I’m not in the frame of mind to talk about cookware, so thank you for reading this far. You might feel moved to write back, but if you do, would you use the blog please as I’m unlikely to be able to respond to you personally at the moment and selfishly I don’t want to be feeling guilty about this on top of everything else!

Kind regards



  • Donna

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers

  • Adela

    Dear Babette and Family,
    Much love to you all. Praying for uncommon strength and grace at this time. Always in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Janet Greenberg

    Dear Andrew, I can only send you my deepest sympathies , and harbor a sincere sorrow for poor Babette’s fate, that you have all faced with such incredible courage. I have known Elisabeth (now Babette) since 1983 when she directed an agency providing 24/7 nursing homecare . She hired Margaret Walsh to help me with my companion’s last days (esophagus cancer). They wound up both saving my life on Aug 11th, 1988, when my car when over a cliff in Santa Barbara, Calif! ) Elisabeth was so sharp and efficient, cute as a button, that I hired her to work as my assistant in my Paris art gallery, though she was a smoker (I being allergic to smoke), but most French did
    smoke in those days. We had many extraordinary adventures during those over 2 years together : going to the painter’s Max-Agostini’s atelier in Gargilesse and delivering paintings to a famous CEO High tech ‘s home on Xmas day in 1985 in Grenoble, and she was a vivacious help during our exhibition openings.. She was invaluable to me at that time. But her destiny took her to Italy, and then to the UK after meeting you, and founding a family. She loves you all dearly. Seeing you both 2 years ago here in Paris, was a precious reminder of those early years, and Babette’s never ending energy, and kindness. She will always be in our hearts and memories and I am very happy that you have that painting of her, at that time, in Max-Agostini’s garden. When my companion died 3 days later, she said to me, “You won’t replace him, but time, the Great Healer, will help you deal with the void.” I am here for you in Paris, for whatever you and you your children may need. Much love, Janet

  • B Ranken

    Andrew, My apologies, I sent you an email for Babette at the weekend prior to reading your heartbreaking update. What courage and fortitude you’ve both shown through this tragic ordeal, truly awe inspiring. My heart truly goes out to Babette , you and all your family. Sending love and peace to you all. Bryany

  • Holly Fogg

    There are no words of comfort but my thoughts are with all of you. xx

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