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Anne-Marie's Story

"St Catherine's became the centre of our world."

My mother-in-law, Diane, was diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to her stomach and bones. At the same time her husband Martin, my father-in-law, was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer.

“It was a horrendous time for our family, but St Catherine’s became the centre of our world.

At first Diane and Martin were in hospital together but as Diane became less well she was desperate to return home. Home was her sanctuary, and thanks to St Catherine’s she was able to get back there and get the symptoms of her illness under control.

When Diane became too ill to stay at home she went to the hospice. I have four children, Jake, Ellie-May, Harry, and Connor, and I was worried how I’d manage, but the hospice playroom and garden were great as it meant they were never stuck sitting at their Nanny’s bed. The different spaces gave them somewhere to escape the tears and pain and helped make things feel more like home.

Martin and Diane had been married 50 years so being together was really important to them.

And we were amazed when Martin’s hospital doctors brought him to the hospice to visit Diane. Their kindness was incredible. Visits weren’t easy, as Martin was so ill himself, but they were very precious. And remembering Diane and Martin sitting together, holding hands, in St Catherine’s garden is something I’ll always treasure. And that’s not the only happy memory St Catherine’s helped us to make. They made another of Diane’s wishes come true by allowing us to bring a horse to visit her. She and Martin spent happy time together feeding him in the hospice car park.

As Diane became less unwell, St Catherine’s got her home again, where she passed away surrounded by her family.

It was exactly how she’d wanted her death to be. Shortly after Martin deteriorated too. He didn’t want to die in hospital so he returned home. St Catherine’s were a constant support. They helped with equipment and were always on the end of the phone. When you’re caring for a loved one at home it can sometimes feel lonely but we never felt stuck or scared because the hospice was there 24/7. They made Martin as comfortable as possible, and made his death feel as normal as possible for our children.

Diane and Martin died only 10 weeks apart but St Catherine’s helped put our family back together.

They went above and beyond for us. My eldest son, Jake, found losing his Nanny and Granddad particularly hard and struggled with his anger so he started counselling at the hospice. He couldn’t talk about his anger at home but counselling gave him a safe place to share his feelings. And his sessions taught him how to manage his grief. After his Granddad died I was so proud of how Jake supported his own Dad. He held him and said, “Your tears are important. You’ve got to let them out.”

Although I didn’t want Diane or Martin to die, their deaths couldn’t have been any better. And that makes a huge difference to how my family feels now. We feel honoured we had the hospice’s support twice. We hope more families can have it in the future.”

Donate today to our Full Circle Appeal so that no one has to face death and loss alone. 


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