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“When we had the anniversary party in the patient lounge we said to the nurses and staff, come in and join us as they felt like part of our family now.”

Marcus was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2017. The cancer then spread to his bones and in September 2018 after seeing an oncologist at the hospital, he was told that he wouldn’t be able to be given chemotherapy and had only two weeks left to live. After his family asked the medical team to consider the chemotherapy again, he was then given it and it had a miraculous effect on his platelet count to the point where one of the doctors shook his hand and said “Mr Cook I never thought I’d see you again’! He was eventually on chemotherapy for four months but as he began to deteriorate due to increased pain in his ribs, the chemotherapy was stopped as it began to become too risky.

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In May 2019 Marcus was admitted to the hospice after having collapsed at home and he had some respite care for two weeks.  He then came home but as it was beginning to be a struggle for Dorothy to care for him, carers came in in the morning and evening to help and district nurses came to visit. Eventually when Marcus became a lot weaker he was admitted back into the hospice.

Elaine, Marcus and Dorothy’s daughter said: “Dad came in to the hospice with a goal to get to 10th October which is Mum and Dad’s diamond wedding anniversary and Mum’s 80th birthday. I don’t think anyone thought he would get to that date, not even the doctors. But once he was here, they worked wonders. He went down and they brought him back and they’ve looked after him really well.”

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It was with this date in mind that a secret anniversary celebration plan was hatched as Elaine recalls: “As a surprise, Beryl and Catherine had liaised with me to keep the celebrations a secret from Mum so we could surprise them both with an anniversary treat. Dad kind of knew as he said he’d heard whispering!”

The surprise, to mark Marcus and Dorothy’s diamond wedding anniversary, was planned for an afternoon so Elaine’s husband and children could come along together with her brother. Dorothy recalls how the surprise played out: “I’d been given a bunch of flowers and I thought, oh that’s nice and I thought that was it but I knew there was going to be a cake later. It was only when I came back to the hospice in the afternoon with the rest of the family and I asked Elaine, ‘where’s the cake’ as I wanted the staff to have some. Elaine lead me down the corridor to the patient lounge and the room was decorated with balloons, more flowers and a lovely buffet. I just wished Marcus could see it and then the staff managed to bring him down to the lounge in his bed too. It was lovely and an amazing surprise!”

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Elaine and Dorothy hadn’t had much experience of the hospice before Marcus was admitted and were both amazed by the amount of time staff had to spend with family members and that they were always happy to answer questions.

Elaine summed up what the hospice meant to her and her family: “Until you have a loved one go into the hospice you assume it’s just they go in there and get looked after and that’s it. But that’s not it. When you come in here you get an extra family. You’re treated just like family”.

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