Stefan White - Patient Relative

“The Hospice staff were so attentive, literally there with us through the entire journey and it would not have been possible without them by our side, oxygen tank and all!”

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"My Hospice experience was, as I imagine many peoples are, a mixture of happiness and sadness. After trying for a baby for over a year, my then 31 year old Fiancée Anne-Marie and I discovered we were expecting in December 2011.

Her initial scans showed enlarged ovaries (assumed endometriosis) so we had regular check-ups only to find in March that we had lost the baby. Her ovaries remained enlarged after the miscarriage so one was removed and tested to which came back as secondary cancer. Fortunately for me at the time I had been made redundant in the February so was kindly put on gardening leave to help care for Anne-Marie at home.

We managed for a couple of weeks before she began to struggle with the simplest of tasks so were admitted to hospital. We never found out the origin of the cancer, but our shock was only worsened by the discovery that it was also impacting her white blood cells, so chemotherapy wasn’t an option. We were told that we only had a matter of weeks left. At that point we were offered a room to stay at Hospice.

In such a chaotic world that was our lives at that point, Hospice offered comfort, control and peace of mind. I was able to stay with Anne-Marie throughout her stay; the rooms were large and included a bed settee I could make my home. I got to see first-hand the level of effort and care that goes into looking after a patient, and their family. It was literally 24/7 care and the techniques they employed when more pain relief medication wasn’t possible were both inspiring and reassuring as I could only watch on.

I had decided on the day that we were given her terminal diagnosis that I wanted to give her something positive to think about and so I asked if she would marry me. We had been engaged for 22 months already, but now with limited time I knew we had to take this opportunity. Thankfully she said yes and we were able to spend the next few days frantically organising our wedding from her bed.

This is the positive I look back on whenever I think of this time in my life. Our wedding was not only still one of the happiest days of my life, it is a reminder of all the good that can done in the world when people come together to help. Neil Dunwell visited us in Hospice and we chose our rings and had them resized. Anne-Marie found her perfect wedding dress online which was in a shop in Castletown and the shop owner willingly and miraculously adjusted it from the only size they had in store (14) to fit her now size 6 frame perfectly. All our friends rallied around and arranged all of the décor and everything that involved leaving the room, the wedding cake was beautifully made (chocolate of course), Anne-Marie’s brother brought the classic car up and Hospice laid out their in house chapel for our ceremony and organised and catered the entire reception afterwards in the Day Room, they even decorated one of the staff sleeping rooms with a double bed in for us to be able to lie next to each other on our wedding night, but unfortunately we never got to see it in person as such an exhausting day led to an early night back in our room.

The Hospice staff were so attentive, literally there with us through the entire journey and it would not have been possible without them by our side, oxygen tank and all! My most vivid memory of that day was sitting in the chapel and turning to see Anne-Marie, who had not left her bed in 4 days, manage to walk, aided by her father, the few steps from the door to my side. Her strength and positivity throughout this whole experience is what I have leant on since that moment to keep me going to this day. Those were her last ever steps, but they were the most triumphant.  

We had the most perfect day in our bubble of happiness surrounded by most of our friends and family who could get there with such short notice. I don’t know why people worry so much about organising a wedding, it can be done in 48 hours without getting out of bed, although when you have the people of Hospice Isle of Man by your side, anything really is possible!"


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