Tom's Story

Our dad, who was a paramedic, was incredibly strong, so much so that you wouldn’t have realised he was unwell. He was very protective over me and my siblings and he didn’t share with us his diagnosis until quite far into his journey. His natural instinct as a parent was to protect us for as long as he could. He was diagnosed with a very rare form of thyroid cancer called Medullary Thyroid Cancer and it was six years after this diagnosis that he shared it with us. It came as such a surprise and he deteriorated quickly from the point he stopped his treatment, which was clearly very difficult for us to watch. Up until then, he had continued his passion for travelling, following the rugby to the south of France, and enjoying trips to Portugal & Dubai. He also continued his cycling, with several trips to Hornsea, one of which saw 4 punctures which Dad calmly
fixed... 3 of which were mine!

Dad was cared for at home by my step mum, who worked at the NHS, and was moved to Dove House on my brother’s birthday, the 3rd of December. We didn’t find out until he was already there, as, in true Dad style, he was trying to protect us and prevent us from worrying further. When you think of the word hospice, it feels like a taboo subject, until the point you or a loved one need their care. I was dubious when I arrived, but soon realised Dove House is a very welcoming place. I have three siblings and we were never made to feel like there were too many of us. The hospice was flexible and extremely accommodating.

Dad was at the hospice for a total of five days and every nurse and doctor I met was so helpful. They gave us the information we needed in laymen’s terms which made us comfortable and ensured we really understood what was going on. Whilst this may only seem like something little, it made such a difference in how we processed everything.

The Dove House team are fantastic at making the hospice feel like your home for as long as you need it. Everyone who cared for Dad was wonderful. It must be a very challenging role to care for those who are coming to the end of their lives, but you would never know it. They have such a calmness about them; their strength is exemplary.
Dad was at the hospice over the festive period and going through something like this over that season seems even harder to come to terms with, not that there will ever be a right time. You could easily have forgotten what time of year it was, but the hospice still managed to make it special for us. There were decorations and music, it was lovely.

Dad was a huge football fan, and his palliative care was during the Qatar World Cup. We managed to listen to the matches together using the facilities at Dove House, which allowed us to feel ‘normal’ through a very challenging time.

Dad sadly died aged just 59 years old at Dove House. As I am sure many people know through their own losses, it’s very hard to put into words what we have lost as a family. Our dad will continue to live on through the memories the hospice helped us make. We are so grateful, and we won’t forget all those people who helped make that happen.