Martin was a fit and apparently healthy young man with a wonderful young family when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Martin’s wife, Tanya and son Tomas, aged 9 tell his story…
"Martin worked as a polo groom, and we met through work. He loved horses, they were his babies. He was perfectly fit, working hard, riding, and playing polo, when he found a lump in his neck in January 2019.
"That summer, Martin’s parents came to visit from Argentina. He was doing well, spending a lot of time with the kids, and it was all fairly normal. But then we got the news that his treatment wasn’t working and the cancer was spreading. In November, they let us know there was nothing else that could be done. That was a hard, hard thing to hear. It was like a bad dream.
"We had everybody round for a really big Christmas Day and we were planning our wedding too. I even managed to surprise Martin by getting his Mum over. She arrived at 6am. He woke and came downstairs and just burst into tears. I think he really needed his Mum at that point.
"I had to nag him to tell his Mum. He finally turned round to her and said, “You might want to change your flight, because we’re going to get married next week!” So casual about it! We went out that day to find an outfit for her."
"After Christmas, Martin started to go downhill very quickly. He went into hospital at the beginning of February and he didn’t come home after that. We got married just before Martin was transferred to Thames Hospice.
"His Dad flew over; it was really nice that both his parents were there for the wedding. Martin was really poorly by this point. Simple things like signing the register were difficult, but he was determined. After the ceremony, the paramedics took him to Thames Hospice. There were beautiful flowers in the room for us. I had no idea what the Hospice was going to be like but it was just so calming, it felt more like home. We had all the family there. Tomas really hated visiting Martin at the hospital, whereas at the Hospice he was really happy, really comfortable.
"He would come down to Martin’s room and chat to us, before running off to play in the family room. We were there all weekend and he passed away on the Monday morning.
"Our boss, Ryan, was there, and we were just chatting about the yard and then that was that. Martin had always said he wanted it to be normal and it was like he’d been waiting for that moment. As that’s what the three of us would normally do, we would just sit and chat about the yard and the horses."
"The Hospice staff were just amazing – the care and genuine affection that they show, they are all so kind. I genuinely can’t imagine having to go through that anywhere else. It’s just so personal. Something that really stood out for me was how, even after Martin had passed away, they were still talking to him as if he was just asleep – that was lovely.
"And then there was coronavirus. Not seeing people has been so tough. It’s made me very aware of him not being here, especially with the kids. Sonia’s been amazing because I can message her at any point, there’s always a reply. Normally we would see Sonia and she would come to the house. But we’ve had a lot of virtual sessions. And Tomas absolutely adores her.
"Events like Light up a Life are so important for families, especially children, to remember their loved ones and keep those memories going. For Tomas, seeing that there are other families like ours is going to be so important. Tomas doesn’t like talking about things, so we’ll be showing him it’s ok to share this experience and remember this person who meant so much to you.
"The staff that looked after our family are absolute angels! That’s the only way to describe it. If you are thinking about donating to Thames Hospice, please do. If not for your own family, then for the next family that needs their support. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we went through but it’s really, really comforting to know that if the worst were to happen, there are wonderful people that can support you. Thank you for taking the time to read our story."
"Papa was from Argentina. He looked after the horses and played polo. He would always go “KISS ATTACK!” and I would say “Papa stop! Your beard is like a thousand razors!” If I had a dime for every time I told him to stop, I would be a millionaire!
"I visited Papa at the Hospice. Most of the time I was sad but we had train tracks in one room and they helped me. Sonia looks after me and my family. We do weird puppet shows! We tell the story of my life so far.
"Elsa is our horse. We have been going to visit her a lot. Elsa helped. I don’t know how but she really helped. Coco, our puppy, was just himself – annoying! I am looking forward to having a hot chocolate with marshmallows after switching on the lights."
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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.