Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, along with Dan and Tasha's story below.
Often when people come into the Hospice, they are struggling with devastating news. One such patient was 36-year-old mum Tasha Burton. Just before she arrived here, she’d been told she had just two weeks to live.
I’ve worked at The Hospice of St Francis for 11 years, and I was on duty the night she came in – I remember so clearly how strong her spirit was, even though she was so ill.
In times of such tremendous difficulty, people need an unparalleled level of physical and emotional care. When time is precious, every moment becomes vital, and growing memories in those days and hours becomes so important.
Tasha had first gone into hospital with acute stomach pains and fatigue when her son was just six weeks old. By the time she arrived at The Hospice of St Francis, just over a year later, she had been through so much, including diagnosis, surgery and chemotherapy. Her hopes of recovery had grown, only to be destroyed as the cancer spread.
Tasha said at the time, “We had been starting to look ahead as a family and it was devastating to hear that – to think you’re getting better and then to hear that it’s spread. It’s not easy to take in.”
Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Medical science is achieving a lot, but cancer diagnoses have risen by 24% in the last decade.
We know that we can’t always take away disease; that at the moment, at least, there’s a limit to medical achievement. But there is no limit to the amount of kindness and care that with your help, we can give. We can always help people to live out the last of their days in dignity, with peace, surrounded by the people they love.
We knew that Tasha’s time was short, and that she desperately wanted to marry her partner Dan before she died. Within a few days, a wedding had been arranged, and forty of their closest friends and family joined us here at the Hospice to share a remarkable day of celebration and to make memories which will last forever. Those few days were so busy, we helped Tasha to manage her pain while she tried on a wedding dress and looked at flower arrangements.
On the morning of the wedding, I helped Tasha have a bath and put on gorgeous ‘Bride to Be’ pyjamas. She looked absolutely radiant. She was so strong, it was such a privilege, and such a humbling experience, to help her get ready. The wedding dress she ended up wearing had been her best friend’s.
As Dan says, “The smile on Tasha’s face as she walked up the aisle - I’d never seen her look so beautiful. It didn’t feel like she was sick. I have wedding photos all over the house to remind me. Having that day meant everything to us both. If I didn’t have those memories to look back on and sustain me, life would be so much harder, but the fact that I do helps keep me going.”
Today, will you give a gift so that more people like Tasha and Dan can grow lasting memories? Each year, we care for around 2,000 local people and their families. Everyone who comes through our door has one thing in common; they know life is precious and sometimes very fragile. But they also know that with the right care, beautiful memories can grow in the hardest of times.
So, this spring, please help us to create days filled with love for everyone in our care: