“We were overwhelmed by the care at the hospice”

24 year old Richard was admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle after a six-year span of treatment for a brain tumour. When the nurses heard he had achieved his MSc in Sports Science, they arranged a special graduation ceremony for him. Richard’s mum, Linda, describes what this meant to the family.

Richard was sitting exams for his MSc three days after major surgery

'When our consultant mentioned the Marie Curie hospice, it was daunting and frightening. We weren’t convinced, because Richard was only 24 and we thought it might not be the right place for a young man.

'But after three days settling in we felt we had made the best decision. We were overwhelmed by the care at the hospice – if you needed help it was there immediately. It became our home, and we were allowed to treat it as home.

'Richard was there for nearly seven months. My husband spent the whole time there with him, sleeping on a day bed. Whenever my husband came home, me or my daughter would go and stay.

Richard with his mum, Linda

'All his friends – and he had a big circle of friends – used to visit and were made very welcome. Everyone there gave you time – you never felt like you were encroaching. Even towards the end, when Richard was very poorly, they’d do anything to help us. On his birthday we had a family party, and we wheeled his bed outside, into the beautiful garden.                                               

'I can’t describe how caring the staff are. While in the hospice Richard had his graduation for his MSc in Sports Science and Coaching. The staff took it upon themselves to organise the graduation in the hospice – they just said ‘we can make it happen!’.

'They liaised with the university and our family, and got the Head of Faculty and the Course Director to come along to the hospice to present Richard with his certificate.

'We kept it a surprise for Richard until the morning of the ceremony. Some lecturers and most of the nurses squeezed into the room for the presentation, and we had a big bottle of champagne! It was really important to us that Richard got to know that he’d gained his MSc, and that we were able to celebrate with him.

Richard with his sister

'The hospice graduation was the culmination of all Richard’s hard work – he’d even sat exams three days after his brain surgery – and a great recognition of what he’d achieved. He was absolutely beaming – he’d recently lost his sight and so this gave him a real boost, and made him happy.

'It’s the most terrifying experience in the world to watch someone you love suffer. If you ever have to face this experience, the Marie Curie Hospice can help get you through it.'

For Hospice Care Week, we’re celebrating every corner of our hospices and the people who make them so special. Find out more about our hospices and the vital work they carry out.