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Kirsty's Story

Last year, my family and I experienced our first Christmas without my eldest son, Jack.

We shared a special bond, Jack was truly my best friend. We laughed a lot together. He was the best big brother to his two brothers and two sisters. His relationship with his Dad, my husband Rob, was amazing too. Jack had the most infectious smile. He loved football, he was a Manchester United fan. He was learning to drive. He liked animals. Loved hanging out with his friends. He was a huge fan of Marvel movies.
Jack Boles

Remembering Jack

I still message Jack, I call him. You say goodbye to your child, and you expect them to come home. You expect to outlive your parents, but you don’t expect to outlive your son. It’s very tough. We are so proud of the man he became. In 2020, Jack who was just 19, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a rare blood cancer. We were in disbelief; even though he had some worrying symptoms, we never imagined such a serious diagnosis.

After finding cancer in Jack’s heart and lungs, he was transferred to intensive care and was not expected to pull through. But a successful bone marrow transplant meant Jack got the all clear, and we had a bottle of champagne ready for his six month check up in June. A week later the cancer was back. His illness progressed quickly. Jack was referred to Hospice in the Weald in September, with daily visits provided to support him at home. During a stay in Hospital, he developed sepsis. We knew he wasn’t going to recover.

Jack would say, “I’m not scared of dying Mum, I’m scared that this time next week I won’t be able to hug and kiss you.”

Jack wanted to die at home with his family but there wasn’t enough time to put a care package in place, and the next day he was on the Ward at the Hospice in Pembury. I had a wobble when I first arrived, Jack was the youngest patient there at the time.

Jack was only 20 years old. I can’t imagine how scared he must have been, knowing he was going to the Hospice to die. But as soon as he arrived he told me how much he loved his room, how the staff were friendly and they were going to cook him lasagne.

Jack was so reassuring on that first day in the Hospice. His first words were, “It’s nice here Mum, it’s nice.”

Jack with mum and dad

Spending precious moments with Jack

Jack had been ill throughout the pandemic – it made it so much harder. When he was in hospital we had to make impossible choices about who would spend time with Jack and who would stay home with our other children. He was only allowed one visitor. It split up our family and we all struggled, especially at times when we should have been together, like Christmas.

But at the Hospice, Jack had a queue of visitors waiting to see him. His friends, his brothers and sisters and his family were all able to visit. Jack’s girlfriend Jess was even able to stay with him at the Hospice.

The Hospice were so welcoming, they understood how important it was for Jack to see his loved ones. I am so grateful he got to see everyone before he died. On the morning of the day he died, I arrived early and the nurses told me he had had a good night, Jack was dressed and waiting for me when I went into his room that morning and he suggested we have breakfast. I was able to make him breakfast like I would have done at home, and then he asked to take a walk around the Hospice gardens together. I pushed him in his wheelchair in the rain and we sat together. He died later that day, 13th November 2021.

It’s so important to us as a family to celebrate Jack’s life and keep his memory alive. I don’t want Jack to be forgotten. I owe it to his siblings too. Jack didn’t want a wake to be held in his memory, he wanted a party. So that’s what we had, with singing and dancing just as he wished.

We want to support the Hospice, by telling our story and by fundraising. The staff and volunteers at Hospice in the Weald treated him so well. They were kind to Jack and our whole family. He was comfortable and without pain in the Hospice, he liked it there. I am so grateful that he had the Hospice to go to. I’m grateful that he didn’t die on his own. I’m grateful that we didn’t have to choose which parent would be with him. I’m grateful his siblings could be there together to say goodbye. Jack died in the arms of his Dad, with me and his brothers and sisters around him.

Please join my family this December to remember and celebrate the life of a loved one with Hospice in the Weald’s Light up a Life appeal. Celebrating the life of a loved one in this way ensures Hospice in the Weald will always be able to support families like mine and yours.

Light up a Life candle

Kirsty is supporting our Light up a Life appeal, this year.

Support our Light up a Life appeal