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Jess and Matt's Story

Our family’s world had been turned upside down and it was hard to look ahead, but in our darkest moments the Thames Hospice doctors and nurses were there supporting all of us, leaving us to focus on enjoying the time we had left together - as husband and wife rather than patient and carer.

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

Hello, my name is Jess

I’d like to tell you about my wonderful husband Matt and how a journey we never thought we’d be on together brought Thames Hospice into our lives.

Matt and I met on a dating app. He had these amazing blue eyes and straight away I just knew that he was ‘the one’. We bought our first house together just a few months later.

It all began with Matt complaining of bad indigestion which quickly progressed to debilitating pain and multiple visits to A & E. Scans revealed multiple tumours around his major organs. I was told: “We have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Those words never left me.

Matt, very sadly, like a growing trend of other young patients*, was diagnosed with cancer in April 2022. Matt was only 35 and our son Elijah was just five months old at the time.

Matt’s cancer was treated aggressively and successfully with four rounds of chemotherapy over five months, so much so that in January 2023 he was told that the cancer was completely gone. Such an incredible relief. Two months later the cancer had come back – this time in his brain. We were told there was only a 2% chance of this happening. Matt was so brave, having the strongest chemotherapy and radiotherapy but the tumour just continued to grow - his body just couldn’t take it anymore. We had to accept that Matt was now looking at end-of-life care.

We’d been engaged for some time and at Matt’s request, we got married at Frimley Park Hospital. It might not have been what we’d imagined for our wedding but it was joyful and perfect.

When Matt was discharged from hospital I found it was really hard to care for him. I couldn’t lift him anymore and caring for Matt as well as Elijah became too much. We were in constant fight or flight mode and not able to enjoy this important time at home together. But that’s when Thames Hospice stepped in. Matt was only 35 and our son Elijah was just five months old at the time.

Matt had initially thought it would be better to die in hospital because he didn’t want home to be a sad place for me and Elijah. But then a friendly voice arrived at the door – Nathan, a Clinical Specialist at Thames Hospice. Matt instantly felt at ease in his care and agreed to come into the Hospice. I was so relieved!

Our family’s world had been turned upside down and it was hard to look ahead, but in our darkest moments the Thames Hospice doctors and nurses were there supporting all of us, leaving us to focus on enjoying the time we had left together - as husband and wife rather than patient and carer. Nothing was too much trouble and the staff couldn’t have been kinder. Both Matt and I felt completely at home. We were told: “This is about both of you. Please just ask for whatever you need.” All the little things Thames Hospice did made such a difference. Matt had a room with doors that opened overlooking the lake. We loved paddle boarding together so the view was incredible. You never assume that someone that fit and seemingly healthy will fall ill, but the truth is cancer doesn’t discriminate.

There’s a family room where you can make yourself a hot drink or some food, a sofa and lots of toys - it’s like being in your own living room. As a carer or relative those things really matter and kids are made so welcome, making it a brilliant place for Elijah.

Matt had always wanted to go to the Hind’s Head pub in Bray, just around the corner, he said, “I want to take my wife out for dinner”. He was so desperate to fulfil this wish but despite his protests, he just wasn’t well enough. We were both so surprised and overjoyed when the Head Chef, Peter Gray arrived to cook a private dinner for us. It was the wedding breakfast we never had. We shared a bottle of Sancerre and made memories that will last forever.


Matt spent almost three weeks at Thames Hospice. Unlike a hospital, there are no restrictions on visiting hours so we were able to spend every minute of his last days together. The staff made up a bed for me so I could lie next to him. It was life-changing as it meant that as Matt slipped away, I was cuddled up next to him, exactly where I should have been.

I don’t want you to think about Matt as just a patient needing end-of-life care though - I’ve never met anyone who was so full of life. Above all he was the kindest person I’ve ever met – even in his last days putting everyone else before himself. He may no longer be with us but I keep his memory alive for Elijah who is now 2 years old and Matt all over. Elijah says goodnight to him every night before he goes to bed and sleeps with a teddy bear that plays his voice.

There’s a real community at the Hospice and that doesn’t just stop when someone dies.  I’ve had counselling in this safe place and being able to talk about everything has really helped. Thames Hospice is a happy, peaceful place where sad things do happen. But, this sadness is outweighed by the amazing memories I have of the short time Matt and I shared there.

Myself and our families and friends are now determined to raise as much money as we can so that others can have the same care experience that we did. More people of all ages are going to need hospice care in the coming years, and it would be wonderful if you could support this appeal if you can. Like us, one day you may find that Thames Hospice changes your lives forever.

Make a difference

Our services are free of charge to all those in our community who need vital hospice care but this is only made possible through the charitable support and generosity of our amazing community. We need to raise £38,363 each day to fund our services 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.

Find out more about our Spring Appeal

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

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