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“We were able to say goodbye one by one”

Thanks to your ongoing support, Gemma and her family were able to say precious goodbyes to their Mam, Marilyn, during the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Gemma shares more.

“My Mam, Marilyn was amazing. Everyone had a kind word to say about her, and for me, my sister and our four older brothers, Mam was our entire world.

Mam met her partner, Richard at her church and they fell madly in love. We always took the mickey out of them as they were like teenagers, always holding hands on the sofa, but Richard showed Mam what true love was.

Richard was cared for by St Catherine’s in March 2019. At the same time Marilyn suddenly fell very unwell. In hospital, doctors told Gemma and her sister that they’d found a tumour during Marilyn’s operation, and there was nothing they could do

We were told Richard had a couple of days left to live that same day” recalls Gemma.

Gemma and her sister split their time between visiting Richard at the hospice and their Mam in hospital

“Despite how unwell she was, Mam was desperate to see Richard. She was taken to St Catherine’s in her hospital bed to say goodbye”, explains Gemma. “Richard passed away that evening.

Just 24 hours after losing the love of her life, Mam was told she had terminal cancer.”

Marilyn made it clear that as she became less well, she wanted to be at the hospice. In April 2020, she was admitted to our wards

Mam was at the hospice during the coronavirus pandemic,” explains Gemma.

Even though nurses and doctors were risking their own lives, they were incredible. They gave Mam beautiful care and us the chance to be by her side. They even helped Mam do Zoom calls, so my brothers, who live up North, could speak with her

As Mam became more poorly my brothers came down. There were a lot of us who needed to say our goodbyes, and we were all able to say goodbye one by one. When Mam died, my brothers were waiting outside in the car park and a nurse went to speak to them out there.

Even with everything that was happening in the world, there was the right level of support, communication and understanding

To say thank you for the care the hospice gave her Mam and Richard, Gemma and her brother-in-law Dean are running their first London Marathon next week

“Me and Dean both screamed with delight when we found out we’d got a marathon place for St Catherine’s”, shares Gemma. “Fundraising has given us something positive to focus on in Mam and Richard’s memory. On marathon day, we know they’ll be with us watching. Richard will be drinking his red wine, Mam will be drinking her tea, and they’ll both be eating their beloved Bourbon biscuits!”

If you’d like to hear more about Gemma & Dean’s London Marathon run, please watch the below.

If you would like to read more people’s experiences of hospice care please click here or to make a donation so we can help more families in future please click here or call 01293 447361.

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