Warren Johnson has paid tribute to his late partner’s positivity, courage and inspiration after she lost her battle with ovarian cancer on Christmas Day.

Sophie Vessey, 41, was only diagnosed with the illness in August and was told just three weeks ago that it was unlikely she would see in the new year.

According to her partner of four years, she approached the last few months of her life with her typical positive attitude and wanted everybody around her to be happy.

She told him that if she could raise awareness of ovarian cancer and help save the life of just one other person then it would all have been worthwhile.

Warren, also 41, of Wichelstowe, said: “There were lots of tears when we found out she only had a few weeks left to live, Sophie was upset and everyone cried a lot, but she was always positive throughout it all. She was very brave. “She said to everyone ‘Look, I don’t have very long left, I want everyone to be happy, I want my last few days to be happy so if you are going to cry, go somewhere else’.

“She didn’t really want to go to Prospect Hospice, but when she arrived she thought it was absolutely wonderful.”

Sophie, who worked for Network Rail, spent her last three weeks at the hospice and was adamant that anybody visiting her would drop some change in the Prospect collection box in her room.

Sophie and Warren’s colleagues at Network Rail, First Great Western and Heathrow Express in Swindon and Cardiff, also helped raise more than £1,200 for the hospice through a dress-down day and raffle.

And next month, Warren and a team of friends will run the Prospect 10k Challenge in her memory.

During Sophie’s time at the hospice, Warren proposed to her and the couple were able to have their relationship blessed just before Christmas.

“When I proposed it was probably the happiest I had ever seen her since I’d been with her. I’d never seen her so happy, especially in the last few months,” he said.

“We thought that was going to be it but the nurses were so fantastic at the hospice and it was suggested that we have a blessing because we didn’t have time to arrange a wedding.

“We had about 40 people attend at the hospice – Sophie just grinned from ear to ear all day. She was happy when I proposed but she was even happier that day.

“Her first goal was to reach the blessing and then she wanted to make sure she was going to make Christ-mas Day. “The hospice put on a special Christmas dinner for our family so we could come and spend the day with Sophie, which really helped us out. I think she knew we were all around her and that is what she had wanted.”

Sophie passed away on Christmas Day in the evening, with Warren and her mum and step-dad at her bedside. Her funeral will take place on Wednesday at Kingsdown Crematorim at 1.30pm.

Warren said: “We’ve had a lot of support from friends and family and it does help you remember how special she was. “Just being with Sophie was brilliant.”

To sponsor Warren and Team Sophie in the Prospect 10k, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/TeamSophie2

The silent disease

SOPHIE had suffered stomach cramps, varying from excruciating pain to a dull ache and was being sick a lot before she was diagnosed.


She had one of her ovaries removed 18 months ago after a cyst weighing 11Ibs, and thought to be borderline cancer, was discovered.

The cancer was later found to have spread to her bowel and elsewhere in her body.

Warren said: “She didn’t really know what the symptoms of ovarian cancer were, they can often go unnoticed, but she told me that if after hearing her story, one person will go to the doctor and catch it before it is too late, then it would really make her day.”

Ovarian cancer was once known as a ‘silent’ disease, because its symptoms can be vague. Evidence now shows that any of the following three symptoms, if they occur on most days, may suggest ovarian cancer

  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Increased abdominal size or persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes);
  • Difficulty eating, and feeling full quickly