Catriona shares her story as to why she's supporting our #Martlets36days Christmas appeal.


"My dad, David, passed at Martlets on Christmas Day 2015.


It was a day of utter sadness, total confusion but also one with extraordinary moments that we will always remember.


Dad was diagnosed with cancer in the October – a complex form of skin cancer in his sinuses. He had always lived in Hove but had ‘retired’ to France a few years before. But we all talked as a family and agreed that coming home would be best, where we could all help him. 


He started a course of chemotherapy but collapsed just before his fourth session. The disease had increased its spread. Dad was referred to Martlets and a nurse came over to see us, talked us through the help they could offer and said there was a bed for him at the hospice when he was ready.


He came to the Martlets on 23rd December. 


There was such an incredible feeling when you entered the hospice. Decorations everywhere, nurses all dressed up. A really happy, warm, homely place but they didn’t force it upon us.


They knew when we needed to be left alone with Dad – and that was just fine. The staff and nurses were always there, always checking we were OK. I wondered out loud once if Dad wanted some of his favourite tomato soup and a voice piped up behind his curtain, ‘Soup! No problem, I’ll get some!’ 


Christmas morning we all came in early to see him. The nurses were going round singing carols and had given him a little present, all wrapped up. Dad wasn’t awake at this point, so we sat around his bed and talked. 


Misty, the hospice cat, came into the room and I lifted her up onto Dad’s bed. Misty snuggled his hand and Dad responded – lifting his hand to stroke the cat. It was such a special moment, we took a photograph and still have it now. 


We stopped back home to prepare lunch, but the nurses called us back almost immediately; they knew it was his time. We rushed back in with a pile of roast beef sandwiches, everything else left behind at home. 


And so he passed, that evening; he gently slipped away while we sat in his room. The nurses made sure he was comfortable, in peace and his pain relieved.


I think it’s not until you experience hospice care for yourself that you realise how utterly indispensable it is for all of us. Christmas is always going to be hard, it’ll always be a day to remember Dad.


But I know there will be other families in the same situation this year and so I hope that you will choose to support Martlets’ 36 Days of Christmas appeal – because the care your gift will enable really will be life-changing.


Thank you,


Catriona"


Give to our #Martlets36days appeal