Debbie's Story

Debbie’s story

Debbie’s dad Michael and her husband Glenn were both cared for by Martlets towards the end of their lives. She wrote this blog about the ‘amazing’ care they received.

“Martlets is a pure sanctuary for its patients and their loved ones too.

I first came to know of Martlets back in 1999, when my father was in his early fifties. He battled with bowel cancer, but sadly it was terminal. He was taken to Martlets for the last part of his journey. I was so scared of losing Dad as I had lost my mother at very young age. She was just 29 years old, and I was only 10 at the time. She died unexpectedly and now I was suddenly going to lose my dad too.

He died peacefully on 14 February 1999 in the early hours of the morning with the nurses by his side. My time with him at Martlets was so positive, given the circumstances. I visited him two to three times a day by myself and then with his two grandchildren for dinner. We talked and watched TV with him. We’d visit the resident fish in the dayroom, and walk around the beautiful Hospice gardens.

Debbie and her Dad together

The care Dad was given was amazing all-round and he was happy and comfortable, but it was the care I was given that really helped me through the days before and after I lost him.

I was given free onsite counselling and, looking back, this also helped me grieve the loss of my mother too. The counselling helped me to understand his illness. I so wanted to be there to comfort him when he was passing, but sadly I was not able to be there when he died. However, I know that my father went peacefully. He was not alone as the nurses were there at the very end for him.

I was supported and made to feel a part of the Martlets family and they helped me find the best way to tell my two young children at the time. With their support, we created a memory box for each of them and this helped them cope with their grief. Because I was able to grieve with the counsellor, I was able to be strong for the children.

I will always have fond memories of the care Martlets gave use as a family. They made my dad’s last months on this earth as good as they could be and for that I am grateful.

I had no idea I was going to return to Martlets exactly 20 years later. It was such a shock when my husband was also diagnosed with terminal cancer, but once again Martlets was there to support us.

After 24 years together, my husband Glenn was diagnosed with a rare small-cell lung cancer that was also terminal and was in the later stages. After the initial shock, Glenn decided he did not want to know how long he had to live, but to just get on with his life and enjoy the time he had left.

Throughout this time, he really wanted to do something positive to help others by sharing his experience. He wanted to write a book about his journey through cancer treatment and to acknowledge the support he received, especially from everyone at Martlets. Sadly, he never got to write the book he so wanted to write, so I am going to tell his story instead.

Glenn was just 56 years old when he died, and we were best friends and soulmates. He was so supportive throughout the time of my father’s death. He was a loving and caring man who would do anything for anyone. Glenn had a great character too and he would make you laugh with his wonderful sense of humour.

He went along to Martlets several times a week as a day patient. I know that the support he received during his visits inspired him and me too. When he was well enough, he went to various events at Martlets in between his chemotherapy and hospital visits. He would meet up every Wednesday afternoon with other patients and they all supported each other over coffee and lunch in the Martlets café. Sadly, he had a few health issues and was in hospital numerous times, but he stayed so positive.

Debbie and her Husband Glen smiling together

Glenn also received complementary holistic therapy treatments at Martlets to help him physically and mentally; therapies such as acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. I am also grateful to have received wellbeing therapies, as Martlets provide this service to close family too.

The team also advised us about financial arrangements. Now that Glenn had stopped working we only had one wage coming in. They were extremely helpful, and this relieved a lot of the stress we were both feeling.

We made arrangements so that when the time came Glenn would be able to have a ‘cuddle bed’ in Martlets’ inpatient unit. These are larger beds so that family members can cuddle up with their loved ones. It meant that I would be able to stay with him and our children could visit a much as possible.

Sadly, that never happened as he was suddenly rushed from home into hospital. We were told by the doctor he only had a matter of hours left and he was too weak to be moved. I spent the next 48 hours by his side. He went peacefully in my arms at 10pm on 6 June 2019, seven months after he was diagnosed.

We asked our friends and relatives attending his funeral for no flowers but that donations were sent to Martlets instead.

The team at the Hospice continued to support me through the challenging times I had ahead of me after his death. I have nothing but praise for them as they make a horrific time in your life a much easier journey.

I too have had cancer and luckily I survived it, but if I were to experience it again and it was terminal, I would choose to make my last journey with Martlets. It is such an inspiring place full of love and support.

The good news for me was that on 14 February 2021, my grandson was born on the day my father died. So now on Valentine’s Day we celebrate my grandson’s birthday. The memories will live on, and he will know of his great grandad as he grows up.”

Debbie kissing her Grandson on the cheek

Will you…leave a gift in your Will to Martlets like Debbie?

“I currently work in a solicitor’s office, and we are supporting Martlets’ Will Writing Month this May. Please do consider leaving a gift in your Will to Martlets as the amazing care they offer is free. They rely on community fundraising and gifts in Wills to keep on caring. 1 in 3 of their patients is cared for thanks to legacy gifts. Thank you for your support.”


Published 28/04/2023