“When I said ‘yes’ to my childhood sweetheart Mark, I never dreamed I’d be a widow at 24.”
At just 24-years-old, Vicky received the heart-breaking news that her fiancé, Mark, had a life-limiting illness. Read her story and discover how Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice gave them the courage to make special memories together…
My name is Vicky and this is my story. At just 24, cancer took away my partner and the future we’d dreamed of together – I was heartbroken.
We were just two days into our honeymoon when we had to rush back to the UK so he could receive the specialist palliative care he so desperately needed. He died just six weeks later. I couldn’t bear the pain. I’d lost my best friend – we did everything together. I felt completely lost. But the care and support of the team at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice helped me through the darkest of days.
“I simply couldn’t have made it through this life-changing time without them”
Mark and I fell in love when we were both young, we got engaged in our 20s and bought our first home together. Everything was perfect – I could not have been happier.
“Mark was just 29 when, with just a few words, our future together was destroyed”
We were told he had bowel cancer and peritoneal disease – it was incurable. He would live for less than a year. It was the worst day of my life. We had plans, hopes and dreams. I didn’t want to imagine life without them. I didn’t want to think about what we were about to go through together – how could our story end like this?
“Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice gave us the courage to live again”
Mary, our nurse, would visit Mark at home as his cancer progressed. She provided Mark with the expert medical care he needed but what I’ll always be truly grateful for is her understanding. Mary cared for me too. She made those dark days lighter and was a supportive hand to help guide us through this heart-breaking journey.
Mary wasn’t the only one, everyone at the Hospice helped us to be strong throughout Mark’s illness but the most precious gift they gave us was the courage to live. They suggested that we write down a list of things he wanted to do before he passed away – that gave us the confidence to make those dreams a reality, the opportunity to make more precious memories.
We flew to New York one last time, a city we both loved, he watched Aston Villa play from a corporate box and we had the most precious and memorable of days together – the day we got married.
Our wedding day was filled with joy and pain. We had been together for over ten years but a terminal illness certainly wasn’t going to stop us from saying our vows to each other – even though we both knew we wouldn’t be growing old together.
“After only two days of our honeymoon, Mark fell seriously ill”
At a time when we were supposed to be planning the rest of our lives together, we had no choice but to catch a flight home where we both knew it was time to say goodbye. Knowing that he didn’t have much time, Mark asked to go to the Hospice. It was here, surrounded by those he loved, that he passed away peacefully.
Knowing that we made the most of every moment together creating special memories, helps to provide comfort at difficult times. When I felt I couldn’t cope with such loss, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice were still there for me. I was offered bereavement counselling sessions and even now, I can pick up the phone and speak to someone if I need to.
“Because of the generosity of local people, we were given the support we so desperately needed to live through a terminal illness, something I never thought possible”
Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is an incredible charity. I know first-hand the difference their service makes in the most unbearable times. Without them, I genuinely don’t know how I would have managed.
Thank you Vicky for sharing your story with us. On Wednesday 10th July, we need you to Go Pink! and help support more people, just like Vicky and Mark, to live well with life-limiting illness.
You can Go Pink! with friends and family, at school, with your local sports club, at work, or even down the pub! Feel silly with a pink wig, go glam and dress up in your best pink clobber, or treat your mates to delicious pink cupcakes.
Sign up to your free fundraising pack and let’s make Go Pink! a day to remember!