At the age of just 44, Chris was diagnosed with a tumour which meant his illness was not treatable. He was referred to Hospice in the Weald in January 2020. Caroline, Chris’s wife shares how the support from Hospice in the Weald enabled them to live a normal family life with their son, Thomas and the family Dog, Dillon.
Caroline shares her story as part of our Light up a Life appeal, where we encourage people to remember their loved ones and celebrate their life. The loss of a loved one can be felt more deeply during Christmas so we invite you to attend our Light up a life service, held in our beautiful Hospice Gardens to remember those you love during this festive season.
Add to our dedication page, via our website to donate in memory of your loved one, and have their name included in the book of remembrance.
From his diagnosis in January, Chris was referred to the Hospice, but he was still feeling well and able to continue with his cycling, something that he was very passionate about. His wife, Caroline explains “The Hospice began supporting Chris, but he didn’t look or feel unwell. To me, the Hospice were just there in the background if we ever needed them – years down the line. And he definitely didn’t need an end-of-life plan. He was normal Chris; our family life was normal.”
A month later, Chris became unwell whilst at work, and he was rushed to Hospital, where they found 15 tumours in his brain, that had not been there in January. Everything changed for the family.
“Chris told me I’d always been his unofficial wife for nearly 30 years. But on the 6th March 2020, we made it official. I am so pleased that we have the memories of that special day.”
Three days after their wedding, Chris was rushed to Hospital and his family were told to say goodbye. Caroline tells us how she managed to sneak their family dog, Dillon into A&E. “Nothing would wake him up without him having repeated seizures until we snuck Dillon into A&E. Chris’s best (canine) friend jumped on him, licked his face and brought him back to us.”
“I thought people went to hospices for end-of-life care; in my mind it wasn’t about keeping people well enough to live their lives, helping them to go home or helping their families.”
Chris spent four days in hospital before moving to the In-Patient Ward at the Hospice. At the Hospice, his symptoms could be managed, and his family could stay with him. “The Hospice catered for everyone’s needs, little things like putting food in front of me meant so much. Even finding dog treats for Dillon; yes, he stayed with Chris at the Hospice too.”
Chris and his family were able to return home a week after arriving at the Hospice, in time for his son Thomas’s 15th birthday.
“We enjoyed three more months living at home with the Outreach Nurses visiting us once a week. Chris was young and the fittest person anyone knew. The Hospice’s ‘what if’ plan allowed life to be as normal as possible. We could leave the house with a level of confidence. We could walk the dog, see friends and family and Chris could still use his stationary bike at home.
The Hospice nurses are there for you any time of day or night; even when Chris had gone to sleep, if I was upset they were there to give me a hug and it meant so much. I had minimised the time our 14-year-old son, Thomas, spent at the hospital. The Hospice was different though; he could spend time with his Dad in a calm environment. They weren’t just supporting us, they were supporting the whole family – Chris’s parents, and his brother too. They catered for everyone’s needs, little things like putting food in front of me meant so much. Even finding dog treats for Dillon; yes, he stayed with Chris at the Hospice too.
Chris loved cycling, at any opportunity to be out on his road bike he would be. He’d completed the hospice cycling event several times in the past. Never did we think he’d end up needing their support.
Chris passed away in June last year after being admitted into the Hospice for symptom management. Caroline has shared their story as part of our Light up a Life campaign this year, which focuses on the importance of remembering loved ones.