Matt J's Story

Matt was diagnosed with spinal cancer in February 2013 and, following an intense session of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, was admitted to the Hospice in May.

He and his fiancée Michelle were engaged in 2009, and although talking about marriage had not got around to planning their wedding day. Both Matt and Michelle have children from previous relationships, and also a four-year-old together. Matt’s terminal illness inspired them to fulfil their dream and make their family complete.

Within 48 hours, the Phyllis Tuckwell team had arranged for the licence to be obtained and a Registrar to attend to marry them at Matt’s bedside. The Hospice Chaplain then blessed their marriage in a short ceremony in the Hospice garden.

Surrounded by their family and now what Michelle calls her Hospice family, every part of the Hospice team did their bit to support the event. The Patient & Family Support team planned the event, obtained the legal documentation and worked with the family to make all the arrangements. Nurses helped prepare Matt while Michelle got ready at home. Volunteers prepared flowers, Housekeeping prepared the room and Catering provided the food for the celebration. After spending the night at the Hospice, Matt and Michelle were given a special treat the next morning as the chef personally delivered a special wedding breakfast with toast cut into the shape of hearts.

Asked what the day meant to Michelle, she said: “I am overwhelmed with the care and support from the Hospice team. Matt came into the Hospice not to die but to make the most of his last days and weeks of life. This was made possible because of the love and help of everyone that works there. As for our wedding day, I don’t think anyone could have done it better. It was really important to Matt and me that we got everything in place. His legacy will be a complete family, united through our marriage and our children.”

Tony Carpenter from Phyllis Tuckwell commented: “It is an immense privilege and pleasure to help people like Matt and Michelle. Matt’s illness understandably devastated the family, so we do everything we can to ensure our patients and their families are supported through a difficult time and given all opportunities to make the most of life…because every day is precious.”

Sadly, Matt died in our care 19 days later