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James & Blanche's Story

Blanche was cared for on our Inpatient Unit before she sadly passed away in February 2021. Blanche was only 42 years old when she arrived at the Hospice, with her six-year-old daughter Jess and her husband, James. James kindly shares their story.

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

"Blanche and I met in the early summer of 2003 when she was over from South Africa with the intention of travelling around Europe. Within two days we had started dating. By that September I proposed and on 22 January 2005 we were married. We couldn’t have been happier.

"We spent the next few years living life to the fullest; travelling and four years later we bought our first home in Windsor. We continued to work and travel until we got the happiest news that Blanche was pregnant and in March 2014 our daughter Jess was born. Life was great, it was just a normal family life, until June 2018 when Blanche began to feel unwell. After many visits to the doctors and the hospital, Blanche was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I felt helpless; all I could do was watch whilst my wife lay there in pain.

"However, after what felt like a lifetime of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I had my old Blanche back.

"She had more energy and we were back to being a family unit again. Tragically this wasn’t to last and by June 2020 my Blanche went through six more rounds of exhausting chemotherapy. It was very hard to hear when the consultant told us that my Blanche’s treatment wasn’t working, she was only 42.

"To be honest by the time Blanche was referred to Thames Hospice, it was a relief for both of us as we knew that Blanche would get the best care available and I was able to see her every day. Because of the pandemic we couldn’t visit Blanche in hospital as much as I would like, but coming to the Hospice meant that we could be together again. Being at the Hospice just feels like we are part of one big family, even our daughter Jess felt at home there, when she had been very intimidated at the hospital. She could be heard running down the halls, because she just couldn’t wait to be in her mums arms again. Staff at the Hospice, like Catherine, did so much for us during Blanche’s stay. They really did do everything to make our last moments as a family so precious. Being at the Hospice during Christmas time was hard. We’ve always had this tradition of dressing up as elves and visiting our family. We were so grateful that Thames Hospice allowed Blanche to go home for 48 hours over the Christmas period, even though she was really ill by then. To be allowed to have those good memories of our last Christmas together, will be with Jess and I for the rest of our lives. I know that this first Christmas without her is going to be so difficult.

"One evening when staying over with Blanche in her room at the Hospice, I popped out to get a Chinese takeaway. We just ate, chatted and watched a film before falling asleep together. For that moment, it was our room, our time together. That time spent together was so special. It was the week between Christmas and New Year when we sat Jess down to tell her that mummy’s doctors couldn’t make her better. It was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. Blanche knew that she couldn’t let Jess go that night and so we arranged a sleep over for all of us.

"Jess was so excited as she went home to get her things. Being in that room, just the three of us, felt like a normal night in for us. Blanche and Jess read books together, ate cake and even did some homework. The girls took the sofa bed so that Jess could get her mummy cuddles and I slept in Blanche’s bed. Looking back, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have those memories of us as a family together. They are so special to Jess and I."

"Thames Hospice was able to care for Blanche, reassure her and manage her pain, I know she really struggled with it and the nurses and doctors helped her to feel well enough to be the mum that Jess needed.

"Catherine helped me to prepare Jess for Blanche’s death so that we could look back and focus on the good memories and time spent with mummy before she left us. We lost Blanche in February this year at 43.

"Blanche reached for her blanket and wrapped it around her, knowing that when she wasn’t here, Jess could cuddle it when she was missing her mummy.

"Sonia, their specialist social worker, spent time with Jess at the Hospice and in our home and I know that the support for both of us will be there for as long as we need it. Jess also has her blanket to snuggle into on her sad days. Usually this is a Sunday evening as Sundays were always family days for us. We’ll cuddle up on the sofa and wrap ‘mummy’s blanket’ around and feel that she’s here with us.

"I know that this Christmas will be very hard for us, but having precious moments to look back on helps make this terrible loss a little easier to bear."

Jess, now seven, shares her thoughts on these precious moments with her Mummy

“Thames Hospice took really good care of Mummy. I remember baking a cake and celebrating Mummy’s birthday at the Hospice. I had a sleepover with Mummy at the Hospice on the sofa and we had lots of cuddles and read stories together. I love my blanket it makes me feel happy as it reminds me of Mummy and it’s so snuggly.

“I am looking forward to lighting my candle at the Light up a Life service, and it will be very special because Mummy will be there with me”

Help us be there for more families like Blanche, James and Jess this Christmas.

Light up a Life and make a donation to support your Hospice this Christmas. You can also leave a message for your loved one on our virtual memory tree and book to attend our Light up a Life remembrance service on Sunday 12 December 2021.

Light up a Life

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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