Tom and I met in 2001 in our first year at the Royal Northern College of Music, and we were married for seven and three-quarter years before he died (ask any seven year old – the three-quarters bit is important).
Tom’s initial brain tumour was found at the beginning of 2013, and in May 2016 we were given the news that he only had 6-12 months left to live.
Our first contact with St Ann’s was making use of the 24 hour advice line. Knowing that there was a nurse who could offer guidance and reassurance that you’re doing the right thing in the middle of the night was invaluable.
When we could no longer manage at home Tom was transferred to St Ann’s in Heald Green and slightly dazed, we were basically picked up by everyone as soon as we came through the door. My memories of that afternoon are a little hazy, but I do remember a lot of tea, Tom making use of the ice cream machine very quickly after not eating for a few days, and thinking I was seeing things when the drinks trolley went past the door!
Tom was treated with care, dignity and humour, and during his six weeks at St Ann’s I was able to stay with him every night and go back to being his wife. Everyone was always so lovely and understanding, and we actually got to celebrate Tom’s 35th birthday. The chef made him an excellent chocolate cake and the whole family got together for quite an epic afternoon tea.
Tom passed away in the early hours of Sunday 27th May. We were asleep together on his bed, holding hands.
Tom and I would always have chosen quality of life over quantity, and I fully believe that the only reason he did as well as he did was due to the care he received at St Ann’s in his final weeks.
That’s not where their care ends though. The mere fact that this was our experience, not only Tom’s, really sums up what a special place St Ann’s Hospice is. St Ann’s doesn’t stop caring about the people left behind. Whether it is in the form of bereavement counselling, just staying in touch about events or knowing that when I go back there for whatever reason there are people ready with hugs, smiles and memories.