This year would have been Miles’ and Louise’s 25th wedding anniversary but sadly Louise died of lung cancer in 2017 at the young age of 52.

It has been a difficult three years for Miles and his family but supporting Mountbatten Hampshire events and fundraising for the charity has helped enormously. Miles would like to share his story in memory of Louise and to help others going through the same.

Miles’ story

Telling our three children, Daniel 21, Jonathan 16, and Hannah 14 that Louise had terminal cancer was one of the hardest days of our lives. We had hidden the severity of the situation for a few months as Hannah was so young and Jonathan was doing GSCE’s. Louise was so brave and showed so much courage.

We met through work, over the phone as she was in another office. Meeting for the first time at a conference, we caught each other’s eye from a distance. We talked for a few months until she asked me out and despite the distance life was good, we eventually married, initially living in Whitehill before moving to Sarisbury Green. 

We got Louise’s lung cancer diagnosis in April 2017, she had been in pain, but it was a terrible shock. I remember pleading with the Dr at the Gosport Memorial hospital suggesting ways we could win through but, there was no cure. On the way home we stopped at Lee on Solent, had a coffee, and cried. It was the only time I saw her cry; she was so brave for the kids. 

Not wanting Chemo, Louise accepted a trial drug. It really made a difference, the changes in Lou were amazing, her breathing and movement improved. It gave her new purpose and we took a holiday to the Isle of Wight

Managing the numerous drugs were difficult and Louise was given a bed at Countess Mountbatten for respite. She wasn’t keen but how wrong we were. She commented how positive everyone was. The staff and nurses were so kind and appeared with treats, takeaways, and beauty treatments after hearing the ladies chatting.  I remember being told not visit too early one day as they were having a cream tea party. A special day was when we were allowed out for lunch. We went to Haskins, ate lunch and then she decided to refresh all the decorations for a Christmas she would never see.

A friend of Louise’s was also a patient in the hospice, which was nice for them both to have each other. I remember her saying regularly, she felt safe at the hospice and she was relaxed there.

A few weeks she later came home but there came a point when the drug could do no more, her health deteriorated quickly, and we had to accept the inevitable. We tried our best to carry on, however she was readmitted to Mountbatten. I was told the time was close. I phoned her sister and took the kids in to see her.  They left at 9pm. I was at her side with her sister when she died early the next morning, 7th December. From diagnosis to Louise dying we had little time. Each day is so important.

Louise always said Mountbatten was a very special place, she was right.

We are grateful for the care and support both Louise and the family were given. When she died, I set up a fundraising tribute in her memory, which raised several thousand pounds. We had some donations from the funeral which I nervously took to the Hospice. On arriving, I felt a peace that I had not felt since she died. A nurse recognised me and took me to meet other staff. It was a lovely experience. On leaving I decided to help in any way I could as they do such amazing work, in an incredible way.

I remember my kids bought me a book by Rio Ferdinand “Love Grief and Being Mum and Dad” a lovely book. I learnt however you try, you can never replace your partner. I went on autopilot, living day by day. My kids were amazing, it is very difficult at the time to discuss matters with them or work out how they are really coping. I am eternally proud of the way they handled themselves and continue to help the family unit.

I didn’t really deal with my feelings and two years later I had a breakdown. It is important to get help with your emotions from day one. It’s taken me a long time, but I am feeling better, making time for me.

I feel a huge connection with the charity, it means a lot to me to support it. Especially now with the challenges of Covid-19, to ensure funds are available to maintain the standard of care that they give.

I play Mountbatten Hampshire’s lottery, its inexpensive and I have won the top prize already! I am certain that Louise was looking down on me that day.

I have joined many Mountbatten Hampshire remembrance events, The Sunflower Memory Walk and Light Up A Life, every year. This year I did a virtual Memory Walk to Louise’s memorial bench in Lee on Solent, litter picking as I went and raising £500 for the charity.  

Each Christmas I have sourced some small gifts for the patients at the hospice and I am currently looking into ways that staff at work can volunteer to help the charity.

After my recovery I attended some of the bereavement sessions at the hospice partly for me and partly to share my story with others. I would thoroughly recommend these to anyone who loses a relative.

Thank you all for reading my story, if one of you helps Mountbatten Hampshire a little more, it will make me smile knowing someone will receive the terrific love and care that they provide so well.