Claire and James Dorman's Hospice Story

“The care we received from the nurses, doctors, support staff and countless volunteers at St Elizabeth Hospice was second to none and I will remember it for the rest of my life,” explained Claire Dorman, whose husband, James, received support from St Elizabeth Hospice until his death, aged 37-years-old, on 18 November 2022.

Every year St Elizabeth Hospice delivers free care to over 3,000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

Centered on an individual’s needs, the hospice provides specialist support, whenever and wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the hospice.

“James was gorgeous, funny and just a wonderful husband and father,” said Claire, who lives near Woodbridge.

“He was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2020 and he dealt with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a huge operation in 2020 like the total hero he was and at the beginning of 2021 we were told he was cancer free.

“Following this, we bought our house in April 2021 and all moved in feeling unbelievably lucky to have overcome what we’d been through. Sadly, at the beginning of 2022 we were told the cancer was back and it had also spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and liver.

“At this point we were told James’ care was palliative and they could no longer look to cure him, just extend his life as much as possible. To say we were devastated wouldn’t even begin to explain it.

“James was another level of person. We had met in 2010 in our early twenties and had been pretty much inseparable since our first date. He was the kindest person I had ever met, never had a bad word to say about anyone and he was the most incredible husband and Daddy. Our two children adored him, we all did. We were so, so lucky to have him.

“Over the course of 2022, James faced many setbacks and side effects and in October, we were told the treatment simply wasn’t working and James had weeks, rather than months to live.

“Up until that point, the word ‘hospice’ had been mentioned but we both winced at the word and couldn’t face speaking about it any further. I want people who may find themselves in the same, difficult situation that we did, to know not to be scared of the word ‘hospice’.

“The St Elizabeth Hospice nurses came to visit us at home, referred us to wonderful physiotherapists to try and make James more comfortable at home and went out of their way to help us prepare for what was to come.

“In November 2022, James was incredibly unwell at home and ended up being taken to Ipswich Hospital in an ambulance. He spent one night at the hospital and the next morning I phoned the hospice on their 24/7 OneCall phone number.

“The hospice arranged for James to be moved to the hospice straight away. We were moved into a family room, with a sofa, TV and beautiful windows looking out onto the garden and pond. The second we arrived at the hospice we were treated with kindness and dignity.

“Our children were able to come and visit their Daddy for their last cuddles and kisses and the staff even took them to feed the fishes in the pond.

“I was able to stay with James every second of the six days he was being cared for on the hospice’s inpatient unit and I was incredibly well looked after and supported by the staff during that time; they are all very special people indeed.

The St Elizabeth Hospice team have also supported myself and our oldest child through their counselling service, LivingGrief, which has made such a difference to our lives. The hospice’s services have supported myself and my whole family, providing comfort and reassurance during life’s most uncertain moments.

“In 2023, I will also be taking on the hospice’s Midnight Walk, alongside my army of family and friends, as we say thank you to the hospice and celebrate James’ life.

“We want to raise as much as we can for this brilliant charity so it can continue supporting more families like ours. Thanks to the hospice team we were able to enjoy precious moments together as a family and I can never thank them enough for this.”

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