24 July 2020 18:36
5:43 Sir Andrew Strauss rings the five-minute bell at Emirates Old Trafford on day one of the Ruth Strauss Foundation Test Sir Andrew Strauss rings the five-minute bell at Emirates Old Trafford on day one of the Ruth Strauss Foundation Test Sir Andrew Strauss is determined to make the pre-bereavement support he and his family received prior to the death of his wife Ruth as widely available as possible. Former England captain Strauss set up The Ruth Strauss Foundation in memory of his wife Ruth, who died of a non-smoking lung cancer in December 2018. Since then the charity has helped part-fund TRACERx, a Cancer Research UK project into lung cancer, and is beginning to train care professionals to offer professional, emotional support to families preparing for the loss of a loved one. Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket on day one of the third Test, Strauss revealed this year's #RedforRuth has already raised over £100k and explained the crucial role that Jenni Thomas, a bereavement counsellor, played for him and his sons Sam and Luca in the final months of Ruth's life. 8:47 Sir Andrew Strauss explains how the money donated to the Ruth Strauss Foundation is contributing to research into rare forms of lung cancer and is offering pre-bereavement support Sir Andrew Strauss explains how the money donated to the Ruth Strauss Foundation is contributing to research into rare forms of lung cancer and is offering pre-bereavement support "A real focus at the moment is on offering this pre-bereavement support, allowing people to have those tough conversations when they know a parent is going to die from cancer and to prepare them and their kids for that and create the right sort of supportive environment for the family to carry on afterwards," he explained.
"Ruth and I were so lucky to have Jenni to guide us through that process. That always made me feel comfortable that regardless of how bad things got, I always had someone to refer to. "And then, of course, you're always thinking about the kids. It's the worst thing for a parent to think 'how is this going to affect the kids? Are they going to get through it? Is it going to change their lives? Is it going to stop that joyous smile that they've had on their faces?' England and West Indies wore red caps in recognition of the Ruth Strauss Foundation on day one of the third Test "You're so worried about saying the wrong thing, about saying the right thing, so to have that professional help to guide you is absolutely crucial. "I would have been lost without that help. We tend to leave people to grieve on their own, because we don't know what to say to them. "If you haven't been through it yourself, you don't want to see them crying or say the wrong thing, so I would have felt very isolated and felt very alone and been incredibly worried about the plight of the boys. "Bear in mind, the person who is dying, the last two or three months of their life - they are completely consumed by the idea of what is going to happen to their family once they've gone. So for Ruth it gave her a real sense of comfort and peace, in her last days and weeks to have that support there." Around 14,000 parents with children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with incurable cancer every year in the UK, while 40,000 children under the age of 18 are bereaved of a parent - and Strauss believes too many people are not getting the help they need. 1:47 Last year Lord's Cricket Ground went red with 28,500 spectators supporting the charity during the second Ashes Test to help raise over £550,000 Last year Lord's Cricket Ground went red with 28,500 spectators supporting the charity during the second Ashes Test to help raise over £550,000 "There's not much support out there," he reflected. "There is some post-bereavement help but very little pre-bereavement help. The NHS, obviously, can't afford to do this, so they do offer some support for patients but not for families. "So there's a big significant gap there. We're trying to fill that gap. We have the ambition to train up all of these health care cancer nurses to offer their support. "We'd love to have the situation where there is a teacher in every school who can offer the support as well. There's a long way to go - we're just at the start of the journey and we need as much money as possible to make that happen." To find out more about the Foundation and to donate please visit: ruthstraussfoundation.com