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Lisa and Phil

Lisa and boysI met Phil when I was 17 and he was 19. I was his karate instructor. Phil later told me that the day we met he thought ‘I’m going to marry that girl’. We were married for 23 years and have two wonderful children, Jonathan, 14, and Matthew, 10. In 2004 Phil had a seizure and was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

After treatment, things looked hopeful and even after a recurrence in 2009 we never allowed ourselves to think the worst. By 2012 the seizures were paralyzing Phil and he was diagnosed with a grade 4 tumour. He had an operation to remove what they could and it gave us 6 months. But Phil didn’t give up.

He was determined to walk again – and he did – after lots of hard work with his physiotherapist. He event started a ‘Victory Book’ where he kept a record of small triumphs which to most people are ordinary everyday achievements, like walking or eating an ice cream.

Phil had three rules: don’t let them put me in a hospital bed; don’t let me die in a hospice; I want to die at home with you and the boys. The last few months were unimaginable but filled with friends and love. Friends sometimes stayed all night. I lay beside him and held him. The house was full – all the time. Phil loved it and the boys loved it. Jonathan said he felt helpless and the only thing that helped was knowing his Dad was there, nearby, and he could see him whenever he wanted.

The time came when we needed a stairlift. Helen’s Trust helped us and the stairlift was installed, without fuss, within days. Then they provided a bath chair which made a huge difference as water was one of the few things that brought Phil comfort. Phil had so much grace. He was a beautiful, lovely man. Dying people deserve to have what they ask for.

At times I had to fight to keep Phil at home. Early on in Phil’s illness, someone told me to make sure we made all our own decisions because you have to live with them for the rest of your life. That is the advice I would give to anyone in our situation. Phil’s last words were “I love you”. He felt safe to die because he was at home. He went from us to God. 

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