Lorna’s story

“Darren and I were like ying and yang – I was on the go and he was always calm. We complemented each other. We just had a normal, happy life and were running along taking things for granted. We never expected to need somewhere like St Clare.”
Lorna with her smiling family

Darren and I knew each other since I was 5 years old and he was 7 years old. We lived in the same street in Harlow and went to the same primary school. It wasn’t until years later that we became a couple. We met again in 2002 and got married in 2005.”

“Darren and I just had a normal, happy life. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. We had a nice life – and had no major worries. Darren was healthy; he had a laid back personality. We were like ying and yang – I was on the go, and he was always calm. We complemented each other. We were just running along taking things for granted – like you do. We never expected to need somewhere like St Clare.”

“Darren was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in October 2014. His care was transferred from Harlow to Addenbrookes Hospital in the November and he endured months of chemotherapy, intrusive procedures and hospital stays. He was due to have a stem cell transplant in April 2015. Then the day before he was due to go for the transplant he had a massive seizure. It was the week of Darren’s 40th birthday when they found out the cancer had returned. The wonderful consultants tried another type of chemotherapy but in May 2015, they told us the disease was terminal and that Darren only had weeks left to live. We actually got just 8 days.”

“All through his illness Darren was so brave and he never moaned. During his chemotherapy he spent his time reassuring us, he didn’t want people to worry about him. Darren was looking after us, even up until the end.”

“Even when Darren was told his condition was terminal and he was crying, he wasn’t crying because his life was over, he was crying because he wouldn’t get to see the kids grow up. That was just his personality – he was very stoic and brave.”

“Darren was transferred to St Clare in June 2015. It was a massive thing for Darren to come to a hospice. Initially Darren wanted to be at home. But when he saw how the kids and I reacted to him having a seizure at home, he changed his mind. He didn’t want our happy home becoming the place where he died. I spoke to one of the members of St Clare’s community team on the Friday and on the Monday he had a bed at the hospice.”

“From the moment we came to St Clare everyone was just gold star. Although it was an awful situation, which none of us expected to find ourselves in, the staff were just so lovely. Nothing was too much trouble.”

“The nurses and medical teams who cared for Darren were incredible. The staff are the ‘crème de la crème’ of medical staff. The care just topped everything else we had experienced. And they weren’t just lovely to Darren, their patient, but they also cared for our whole family.”

“Our family was in an awful situation, but St Clare just made it as easy as possible. It was all the little things they did, which might only seem small, but are massive for families.”

“Little things like, on the morning before Darren passed away, the nurses asked if they could get Darren anything and he asked for a McFlurry. One of the nurses went straight off and bought him a McFlurry. I think he only managed three mouthfuls of it, but she literally made Darren’s last wishes come true. It may sound silly, but it was those little things that made all the difference. Darren was treated with such dignity, and made so comfortable, nothing was too much trouble.”

“Darren passed away on 4 June 2015 at the age of 40 years with me, his parents, sister and our new-born nephew by his side. Our children Chloe and Harley were just 17 years old and 8 years old.”

“Even now I feel such a comfort coming back to St Clare. St Clare is not a morbid place where people come to die – it is so much more than that. It is such an awesome, peaceful place.”

“I will never be able to repay the staff at St Clare for what they did for our family. But I will continue to contribute in any way I can with fundraising – to give something back to St Clare. I have already done a skydive, my daughter Chloe has held performing arts events, my sister-in-law ran the London marathon and Darren’s rugby friends are holding an annual rugby match in his honour. I will never stop fundraising for St Clare!”

– Lorna

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