From island life, to diagnosis, to wedding bells at the Hospice
– Rita shares her story with us following her husband’s care at St Raphael’s

Dream days together

Nigel and I were together for 40 years. We moved from London to Cyprus to live our dream on the sunny shores of the island, where we spent 20 years. Nigel was happiest in shorts and a t-shirt, that’s how he loved to live his life. It was a special place for us where new faces became our life-long friends. As dreams go, we would have spent the rest of our days there.

Our lives quickly changed when Nigel was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. At the time of diagnoses, the cancer had already spread to the bone. Nigel decided that best course of action would be to receive treatment through the Royal Marsden, so in February 2020 we left our life in Cyprus together to move back to the UK permanently, while plunging straight into Covid lockdown.

Life had other plans

Through lockdown, Nigel’s treatment continued but his condition worsened. His pain was at an all-time high and in no time, the cancer began to spread rapidly.

We weren’t emotionally or mentally prepared for our referral to St Raphael’s Hospice, yet it came with relief that Nigel’s pain would be well-managed. He was finally free of pain. It is a frightening reality when your loved one requires end of life care and support. It is also a blessing knowing they are in the hands of experts, receiving the correct care that they need.

"It has taken me time to share our story. It’s heart wrenching to feel that the pandemic separated me from my husband, for the very first time, at his most vulnerable time of life. The Hospice has helped us throughout this challenging time. Their compassion has certainly made an impact. Looking back now, I am ready to share our story as I know how much St Raphael’s truly helped us both."

After 40 Years together, we decided to get married in the Hospice,
with the help of St Raphael's

Throughout our 40 years together, we were happy as partners and unbothered about the formalities of being legally married. This changed when Nigel learnt that his illness was incurable – he decided that he wanted us to become officially married, largely for him to know that I would be secure after his passing. 

On 13 February 2021, in the chaos of the pandemic, Nigel spoke with his Hospice nurses to share his dying wish for us to be married. After a lot of red tape due to restrictions and social distancing, the nurses helped fulfil Nigel’s final wishes and we were granted permission to be married.

On 19 February, the Registrar married us in the Hospice’s Orangery Café, with two of our close friends as witnesses. Denise, one of the wonderful Healthcare Assistants that took care of Nigel, along with the team, added special touches and arranged a bottle of bubbly for us to mark the occasion. After all these decades together, while wearing protective masks in the Hospice Orangery, we were married.

“These moments are a great honour for us to be a part of”

explains Denise, Healthcare Assistant at St Raphael’s

“Helping Nigel and Rita get married during the pandemic after 40 years together was a privilege for our team. Whatever we can do to make our patients and their families happy and comfortable, no matter how big or small, is the least we could do. Helping create the space for families to have precious moments together is the reason why we are a part of St Raphael’s.”

Read how Rita rebuilt her life

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