Bob and Dianne’s story
“One of the kind nurses had replaced his small television on the wall with a huge one with subtitles as she had found out Bob was slightly hard of hearing. “He was such a happy bunny.” – Dianne, Bob’s wife, who now volunteers at St Oswald’s Hospice.
Bob and Dianne decided to marry, aged 60 and 54, in November 2014, having known each other for the previous 18 years. They wed in the tropical paradise of Mauritius before returning home for a church blessing with family and friends.
Life was good, with Bob – a former social worker with the Disabled Children’s Team at Northumberland County Council – content to spend his retirement indulging his passions.
“Bob was a fantastic cook and did all the cooking at home. He also loved his model railway, which was housed in a specially built summer house, and he had a passion for wildlife, history and family ancestry, exploring his Welsh roots.”
When Bob began experiencing difficulties swallowing in November 2022, he went to his doctor. He saw a consultant and had x-rays but was given the all-clear. By March the next year, however, he wasn’t able to eat properly while on holiday and, following a bout of COVID, decided to get checked out at hospital.
“I vividly remember dropping him off at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington. It was Easter Sunday, 8th April 2023, at 8.30am. I couldn’t stay with him because of the COVID restrictions. He rang me at 5pm to say I could pick him up.”
Back home, Bob revealed the devastating news that secondary cancer had been found in his liver and lungs.
“I was in total disbelief and from that point on, our lives were turned upside down.”
A colonoscopy six days later revealed the primary source of cancer – a huge tumour in the bowel – after which Bob was referred to a Colorectal Surgeon.
Chemotherapy wasn’t an option due to the advanced nature of the cancer while the former social worker wanted some quality of life in his remaining few months.
Bob and Dianne spent every moment together in their bungalow with a wheelchair and bathroom aids making life more bearable.
But after a serious fall, Bob was rushed to hospital.
“The following morning I rang the GP who contacted the Palliative Care Nurse, Rachel, who had been regularly seeing Bob for his pain management.
“She told me the time had come for Bob to be moved to hospice care.”
Through his job as a social worker, Bob knew all about St Oswald’s Hospice, having previously made referrals to the Children and Young Adult’s Service.
It was his wish for his end-of-life care to be at the Hospice, and he was soon transferred to Gosforth for assessment,
“Bob’s room was lovely. It overlooked the pond and the beautiful, peaceful garden area. He settled straight away and told me he had been given a Guinness on his first evening.”
A week later, Bob rang his wife to tell her two pieces of news – the first that Dr Hughes, his consultant, had told him he could stay at the Hospice while, secondly, his small television had been replaced with a much larger one.
“One of the kind nurses had replaced his television on the wall with a huge one with subtitles as she had found out Bob was slightly hard of hearing.
He was such a happy bunny.”
Shortly afterwards, Bob’s sister and niece travelled up from London and Liverpool to see their brother and uncle and the Hospice arranged for them all to enjoy a private afternoon tea in the Family Room.
Two weeks later, Bob and Dianne joined other patients and their families for an Italian-themed afternoon.
“There were all types of wine, beer and soft drinks plus pizzas, garlic bread and salad, followed by desserts – all served by wonderful smiling staff.”
The couple participated in a Wimbledon Final event a short time later – although by this time Bob was confined to bed and sleeping a lot.
As Bob’s condition deteriorated, Dianne didn’t want to leave her husband’s side and she slept in his room on a visitors’ bed.
On the sunny evening of Friday, 5th August 2022, Bob died peacefully with Dianne holding his hand.
The next day, Dianne wanted to visit her husband in the Hospice’s Chapel of Rest.
“The staff were wonderful and he looked perfect in a lovely room with twinkle lights overlooking a small grass area.”
Dianne describes the care Bob and she received from the team as “amazing” and befitting our strapline – ‘Quality time for everyone.’
She now volunteers on the reception at the Hospice as her way of giving back.
“I feel so blessed to have met and married Bob but more importantly, he got his wish, to pass in such a wonderful place as St Oswald’s Hospice.”