Andy Sage


Andy Sage was one of the funniest and most courageous men I've ever had the privilege to know.

The 42-year-old Sheffield brickie was my best friend on ward P3 throughout the 10 months of my treatment.

Andy Sage

He was one of those human beings who would light up a room and could get even the most miserable sods in there laughing. He was a massive character in every sense of the word measuring well-over six foot and weighing in, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying, at just a little over rotund.

Such was the size, strength and heart of the man he always, for me, carried an aura of invincibility.

When you're in a terrible situation, like anyone undergoing intensive treatment for cancer, you need people to help keep your spirits up and Andy did that in spades. His banter was incredible and wit as quick as any stand-up comedian.

It was obvious how much the staff on the ward liked him too - despite him always trying to wind them up and spend as little time on the ward as possible.

"If you were proper nurses, like them in Casualty," he'd say, "We'd be fit and out of here in two weeks."

His positive attitude was incredible too. If you recall from my earlier posts after chemotherapy for leukaemia you have to spend weeks on the ward until your immune system recovers. During that time he would grab his drip stand and encourage me to join him in doing laps of the ward.

I will always hold onto this strange image of this huge bloke with his red cap, and Sheffield United top on, flying pass the nurses' station before settling down for the afternoon war movie.

To say Andy was a big United, or Blades fan, was an understatement. He was always giving fans of the city's other football team, Sheffield Wednesday - or Wednesdayites- lots of grief. It was hilarious watching these fans, patients and staff, engaging in this good natured sparring.

You have to spend so many hours in that place so to be with someone who can generate that level of energy and laughter was incredibly helpful to me and everyone else involved there.

One of my favourite memories of Andy was his love of the football computer game Championship Manager. The general idea of this game is you take charge of a team and guide them to success and trophies - but Andy had other ideas.

I remember one day he had this huge smile beaming out from behind his laptop. I asked him what he was up to, assuming he had steered the Blades to Champions League glory. Far from it. He explained he had taken over Sheffield Wednesday and was revelling in getting them relegated and financially ruined. He'd do things like buy 11 left-backs for sums vastly in excess of their asking price. When players got upset at the situation he would just ignore them and carry on regardless.

Andy had a harder time in hospital than me. He had a number of very serious infections and had to be taken upstairs to the High Dependency Unit on a couple of occasions.

He has already featured in my blog (Christmas and getting ill) because he was so poorly over the festive period. It was awful seeing him so poorly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When characters like that can hardly move or talk it's horrible to witness.

But he never let any of it get him down. He kept fighting all the time and that was inspirational to me. After a week he was back on his feet and mocking me for vomiting so loudly!

Our treatment seemed to be linked. We both had two cycles of chemotherapy at the same time, both of which failed. We then started our bone marrow transplants about a week apart. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn't get over the disease.

As you have probably gathered by now Andy didn't make it. On the same week I got my good news I learnt Andy had not been so fortunate. I think his leukaemia had been much more aggressive than mine and the transplant had been unsuccessful. To sum up how devastated I am, and everyone who knew him was, is too difficult to put into words.

Although this last story might make for uncomfortable reading I wanted to include it because I know it would have made Andy laugh. After the transplant we were in semi-regular text message contact. I knew towards the end he was very ill and you know from personal experience you don't want to be bothered with lots of phone calls or messages.

On the Saturday while I was still waiting for my results I got a text from Andy saying his transplant had failed and that he'd been given four months to live. Then just hours after receiving my news on Tuesday I got the following text from Andy's phone:

"As usual I will have the last word. I would like you to join me on Saturday at Grenoside Crematorium to celebrate my life, love Andy."

Because Andy was such a big character my assumption was he had organised a big event with friends and family before he finally died.

I thought this was incredible and turned up to the event really looking forward to seeing him - I had even brought a card addressed to Andy. Then the hearse turned up with a large coffin in the back. To say I was shocked was an understatement.

The message must have been sent out under instructions from Andy by one of his relatives.

Although this story sounds a bit embarrassing I know it would have made Andy laugh. I can almost hear him saying: "So you came to my funeral thinking I would still be alive? You bloody idiot!" - Or words to that effect.

I should add that his funeral service was packed with hundreds of well-wishers, some in Blades and Wednesday tops, and the first song was the Jam's Going Underground - what a legend!

Andy was a terrific human being and the world seems a bit worse off for losing a character as big as he undoubtedly was. Despite my good news his family were so kind to me at the funeral and wake that followed.

His death makes me appreciate just how lucky I have been and even more determined to make the most of whatever time I have left. Like anyone who had the fortune to meet Andy, I will never forget him.


I hope this entry does some justice to the sort of character Andy was. He was a superb human being and a great friend.

I didn't know Andy all that well, but he helped me more than he ever knew. When Adrian was first diagnosed I was very worried about him being by himself in the hospital with the weight of this illness hanging over him. Knowing Andy was there made it much easier - I knew that Ad would be kept entertained by this big man with his big personality and infectious humour.

Throughout his time on the ward, Andy kept up a constant stream of light-hearted abuse directed mostly at the nurses and support staff. One evening another patient asked for mustard to go with his beef. After a while the poor youngster charged with this mission came back saying that, sorry, she couldn't find any custard. Andy's typical, comically scathing response to this had me in fits of giggles and that is just one of many moments that will always make me chuckle when I think of him. He will be missed.

I suffered more than enough from Andy Sages' wit on many I am a Wednesday fan working on the ward he and Adrian were unfortunate enough to be on...

its hard to begin to explain how, as a member of staff you draw a line between what is work and what you try not to take home with you..patients such as Adrian and Andy through no fault of their own, make it so much harder, because they are people you cannot become in any way detached from,.. where to begin with Andy Sage?.....I got the same text message as Adrian, sadly i had been on holiday for a fortnight and was in Spain when Andy sadly passed on..and funnily enough deemed myself unfortunate to miss his funeral, as funerals was apparently the nearest thing to a laugh you are ever going to have...(obviously under such circumstances)...but I would have expected nothing less from a bloke who's only fault was the football shirt he wore, day in, day out on the ward.

I met Adrian on the following Monday and agree that if Andy was looking down on Mr Sudbury as he stood outside Grenoside crematorium..expecting a party...Andy would have been in hysterics....I also know that the misplaced guilt Adrian was probably suffering from at the time would be seen by Andy for what it is....Andy would have stuck to the maxim that kept him going through all the misplaced bets he and myself placed with Ladbrokes...(all on his instigation)....

"You win some you lose some"...sadly we lost Andy...happily we kept Adrian....and sometimes its as black and white as was a privelidge to have met Andy Sage...and all members of staff on the ward remember Andy with a smile on their have Wednesday fans wearing Blades shirts and vice versa at whatever occasion speaks volumes for the sort of friend you have says far more than the few inadequate words i seem to have been able to muster..

Rest In Peace Andy..I could even cope with the Owls losing again...just to hear your mildly mocking banter, one last time...

We wanted to add our comments to the blog Adrian has written about Andy.

It seems odd that we never visited Adrian in hospital throughout his treatment, but kept in contact during his "releases" and through constant phone calls.

Adrian mentioned Andy regularly in conversations and we know he thought a great deal of him. He helped Adrian alot during his treatment.

It is terribly sad that Andy's outcome has not been the same but clear from Adrian's blog that he touched so many lives in such a positive way.

I didn't know Andy, but I know he really kept AD going when he was in hospital, and AD thought a lot about him. It's so sad that the outcome for Andy wasn't the same as for AD. I'm sure he will be deeply missed.

Andy Sage was one of those characters who filled a room - not just because he was a big lad but because he had an enormous spirit and a great sense of humour. Dry wit; a comedian's sense of timing; tremendous one liners - though never unkind.

He helped us massively as parents. Firstly because he encouraged a sense of camaraderie in the ward. There was usually some mischief being plotted, some escape route being planned, a great deal of patient/nurse lively banter so that we could leave after visiting knowing that Adie was in not only the best possible nursing hands on P3 but in a closely bonded friendship group as well.

Then there was the sense of humour. It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty should you ever see the funny side of an event and laugh when your son is so seriously ill. Andy helped us to realise that if humour plays a big role in your life when you are well then why not when you are ill? Quite right too. When Adie was in the midst of one of his awful fevers in the early days of his illness he was so freezing cold that he had retreated under his duvet, fully dressed and with hat firmly in place despite chattering teeth. He was artfully trying to negotiate with the staff nurse for yet more bed coverings but, of course, the answer was a negative. Andy's voice boomed out from the next bed "Why not go all the way and shove a bucket of ice cubes down his back while you are at it!" In spite of the awfulness of the whole situation, how could you not raise a chuckle?

A lovely man who will be missed by many people. His family must be very proud to know how much he touched the lives of those who met him and knew him, even if, as in our case, it was for such a tragically short space of time.

Keith and Kay

Adie's Mum and dad

I just wanted to add to the comments. I remember Adrian telling me all about Andy's antics throughout their treatment, it was so important to have humour to lighten the situation and know it had a huge effect in helping Adrian. To have someone who could relate to his situation, who had been through the treatment before and could explain things in a way a doctor can't, not just what is physically happening, but emotionally how it feels and what to prepare for, made such a difference. I was so sorry to hear to hear that Andy had died, although I never met him I know how important he had been to Adrian in improving his morale and helping him face his illness with the same spirit and courage.

I never met Andy- that is my loss.Everything AD

tells me about him indicates what a grand chap he was- coping with the worst that could be thrown at him with style and humour: taking a younger man under his wing as well.......


posted by AD`s Grandma

Andy was such a character. I only met him a few times, but when I did, he didn't fail to brighten up the visit.

During the earlier stages of Ad's treatment, I was asked to be tested to see if I was a potential bone marrow match. The process was so simple - the smallest amont of blood was to be taken from my left arm. It went rather well....until I passed out in the middle of the ward like an utter idiot. With a bump the size of a boiled egg on my head, and a quick visit to A&E, I was immediately laughed at by Andy and the ward on my return. Andy had the knack to completey take the piss, but without upsetting you.....

He added a sense of normality to our lives. He always had a smile for you, always had a joke to tell and I will truly miss him.

Carrie (Ad's sister)

I didn't know about this until the other day when I heard from one of the doctors who used to look after me and Andy on P3.

I'm sure they won't mind me posting this comment on this page.

"I was sorry to hear about Andy too. He really cared about you - i don't think he slept that night shift when you got pneumonia, there were no jokes or wise cracks from him, he just called me over and asked if you were going to be alright."

I am so sad to hear of Andy's departure from this life, but he certainly was a lovely person and character!

I don't really know what to say, other than that I am so saddened to hear he passed away.

I don't know if God comes into this sometimes, but may I say God Bless him.

BUT - I want you to be positive still - you are such an inspiration Adrian, and I pray you will improve, I am so sorry to hear that you are not feeling 100% and understand the skin problems you are experiencing, which are not nice at all, and just wish to send you our love.

keep on the Blogging - you are such an inspiration, even to us who have never experienced your illness, it makes me so humble, and grateful.

~with our sincere love and best wishes

Jane and family xx

Not a comment but a message to Adrian who I heard of for the first time on TV today. Nobody could not be touched by this man's courage and attitude to life and acceptance.

Have you read "A Time to Heal" by Beata Bishop? A wonderful story of success by someone facing difficult decisions and having taken the courageous decision to say no more treatment this may be of particular interest. My very warmest thoughts are with you.

I don't really have sufficient command of the English language to express how I feel when reading about Adrian's devastatingly sad news.

I feel for him, his family and friends and the many readers who like me, don't know him but hold him their hearts.

All I can do is offer my love and thoughts to all concerned x

my name is lily and my parents used to run The Hallamshire Hotle, andys local! Andy was like an uncle to me in my early years, and everyone there misses him including Ann and Paul. Thank you for writting such a beautiful piece on Mr Fruitcake. Everyone from Chief (granger) to my partner Bury Dave think about him everyday as do i. you could not have written about Andy more perfectly! My Mum, Ann was suffering with MRSA at the time Andy was ill and they talked over the hospital internet alot. which was nice for both of them, even though Mum wasn't allowed to go see him because of their illnesses.Tanks again for posting this from Me and everyone at the Mad House

thanks to everyone for all their lovely comments about my brother.thanks to adrian for writing about him and keeping his spirit adrian we all had hope that he had beaten this terrible illness and could lead a long happy least with your website the memory of andy and yourself will be with us forever,it was a pleasure to meet you aidy,thanks again to all your family too

I was just going through Adrian's old posts.One of the post that made me cry uncontrollably is this one, about Andy Sage.This is the second time I am reading this, but not crying now.

Now I think both Andy and Adrian must have met somewhere and give each other company and they are both happy.
Through Adrian directly or indirectly I have heard about somany people who lost their loved ones.Atleast I can pray for all of them , and if I get married and have kids I can teach them how to live like a nice humanbeing and how to love our fellow humanbeings and all other living things...and do what all you can for the humankind.

It is nearly one year since Andy Sage passed away.
I feel lucky to know about Andy Sage too.

Hope you all are recovering from his departure.

Phil Sage, I hope you had a nice time with your brother when he was alive and healthy.I can imagine your sadness and I dont think anybody can completly recover from such a tragic loss.
Wish you all peaceful days ahead.

Shiney from India.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Adrian Sudbury published on October 2, 2007 1:17 PM.

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