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Carolyne and Guy's Story

In 2020 Guy’s world came crashing down when his partner of 28 years Carolyne was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumour and given only months to live. Thames Hospice was there in their time of need, giving Carolyne and Guy the compassionate and dignified care they urgently needed.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Guy was born and raised in the West Country, before moving away to study at drama school and start his career in the world of Film and TV. It was through Guy’s first TV acting job in 1993, aged 23, in which he met his future wife Carolyne, the make-up artist on set: “As soon as we met we just clicked. We got on really well and kept in contact, and things went on from there.

“Carolyne was 15 years older than me and had three children aged 10, 12 and 14 from a previous marriage. When Carolyne introduced me to the kids it was a big step but we all got on and because of our ages proximities I felt like a protective elder brother to them throughout - not a step dad. This enabled me not to tread on too many toes and to develop a great relationship with them all - theyre family. This relationship carries on no matter the distances or time zones.

“We finally got married in 2011. We were enjoying our life together in Gerrards Cross and had been building up to it over the years, and it was the best thing ever.”

It wasn’t until the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 that Carolyne fell ill: “Out of the blue in the summer Carolyne started feeling unwell. After seeing a GP we were eventually referred for MRI and CT scans, but had to go as an emergency to Wexham Park Hospital when Carolyne lost sensation in her right leg just days after referral on 21 September 2020.”

It was then following these emergency scans that a lesion was discovered on Carolyne’s brain: “It was the worst moment of my life. I couldn’t go into the hospital with Carolyne because of the covid restrictions, so I had to listen over the phone whilst she was in tears being told that she had a brain tumour. It was horrible, not being able to comfort the one person that you love, at a time that they need you most.”

After spending the week in Wexham Park Hospital, Carolyne was referred for further consultations and biopsies when in October 2020 they disclosed there were an additional two brain tumours. The following month Carolyne and Guy were given the devastating news that the tumours were inoperable, and there was no treatment that could prolong Carolyne’s life beyond a month: “We had very little support from anyone following Carolyne’s prognosis. It felt like we were in no man’s land for a long time.

“We managed to keep things stable at home using medications and alternative therapies. But in the Spring of 2021 we started having problems.”

Following a UTI infection Carolyne developed a psychosis from the medication and was admitted to hospital again as an emergency. It was here that she and Guy first heard about Thames Hospice as an option for palliative care: “When we went home from hospital it became very apparent that we urgently needed to be referred to the Hospice.

“When we arrived on the Inpatient Unit it was literally like all of a sudden we were being listened to and understood for the first time since Carolyne’s diagnosis.

“During our time at the Hospice Carolyne’s condition went up and down. The first time we experienced her deteriorating it was obvious we were in the right place, if we had been at home we would have been tearing our hair out wondering how to cope. Whereas there we were getting all the support that was needed. I felt like I could be a loving husband again and not a full time carer and practitioner like I was at home.

“The care was outstanding and that warmth shone through in everybody who worked there. Carolyne loved it at the Hospice and never wanted to leave.”

As an inpatient Carolyne had access to all the services available at the Hospice: “They cared not just for Carolyne’s physical needs, but as much as possible for her mental health needs as well. Everything was about giving her dignity back in whatever way, shape, or form.

“She had physiotherapy to help with her mobility. She loved having complementary therapy with Michelle, who had a calming influence on Carolyne. She always felt so much better afterwards.

“Carolyne and I both spent time with the counselling and pastoral care team, who helped us confront the issues and mortality ahead of us.”

Carolyne and Guy also enjoyed spending time in the beautiful gardens at the Hospice, getting outside for walks when they were able to with their two rescue dogs from Romania, Freddie and Pepper: “It was a huge thing for us that the dogs were allowed to come on the Inpatient Unit and stay over with us. It was a massive comfort to us both, and the staff were so welcoming.”

Carolyne sadly passed away at the Hospice on 23 September 2021, with Guy by her side: “I woke up 10 minutes before Carolyne passed and watched her take her last breath. I saw how peaceful it was and it's something which is of huge comfort.

“The Hospice gave Carolyne a calm, peaceful, loving death, which is so important and helped give me peace with her passing.”

Guy continues to receive bereavement counselling support at Thames Hospice: “Counselling has been a massive help as it’s enabled me to come to start to come to terms with everything. I also sadly lost my mum during Carolyne’s illness and was unable to attend her funeral, so the counselling sessions have really helped me balance my grief. I now know that it is okay for me to break down, it's okay not to be strong all the time.”

As his way of giving back for the care he and Carolyne received, Guy has set himself an incredible challenge of swimming the 11 miles length of Lake Windermere this August to raise money for Thames Hospice: I’m mindful of what the Hospice has given us, but also what they continue to give everybody else that comes through their doors. I want everybody to be able to have access to that same care and support we had. I wouldn't put my body through this huge physical challenge if I didn't think it was something that was worthwhile.

“You can't put a price on what the Hospice has given our family. Out of everything that happened, they were the light. They have helped so much, and that's one of the main driving reasons why I want to fundraise for them.”

If you wish to support Guy on his swimming challenge, please click the button below to visit his fundraising page.

Make a difference

We rely on the generosity of our amazing community, whose support enables us to provide the best possible end-of-life care for local people. It costs £12 million every year to keep our Hospice running - through charitable support we need to raise over 50% of the funds required annually to provide our services free of charge, 365 days a year, to the people who need us most.

We’ve never needed you, our wonderful supporters, more than we need you today. Please donate what you can to help keep hospice care available for those in desperate need.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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