Heroes come in many forms and Dave Fox-Dossett, is one of our Hospice Heroes taking on the extremely brave challenge of a 10,000ft skydive for the hospice, this month.

Dave has stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was undergoing his twelfth round of chemotherapy when he invited staff from the hospice to chat to him about this challenge.

'Getting the diagnosis was quite a shock because I was fit and healthy before that and I just thought it was gastritis – a few too many big meals. It was 19 days between receiving the diagnosis to beginning treatment.

After the diagnosis I turned up to the hospice to help with the Park Run we’d organised with friends and colleagues from the DGH. Beth mentioned that the hospice was doing a skydive. I’d always wanted to do one but hadn’t got around to ever making the effort to organise it. The hospice organising it was really helpful – I just slotted in and agreed to take part in what had once been just a fanciful pie-in-the-sky wish! Not working full time has helped too – it’s given me the opportunity to raise money and actually do it.

I’ve raised about £1,000 so far - £1,300 with Gift Aid.

The diagnosis helped in a strange way because it galvanised people to chip in to my fundraiser – my best friends Adam and Hollie are doing the sky dive and I’ve raised twice as much as them. I feel a bit sorry for them as I’ve got an advantage there but I certainly like to make a joke of it in front of them!

I’m in my 12th cycle of chemo and it’s been difficult. It’s been hard making that change from one side of the table to the other – from nurse to patient. Switching that role has been very weird as I’ve been a nurse for more than 26 years – my wife is also an A&E nurse and has been my rock.

She and the children have helped me to carry on and been amazing – my two kids join in with administering my injections too. 5 days after a round of chemo I have to have two injections so my 9 year old helps out, managing to do something that I’ve never been able to do in 26 years as a nurse – give two injections at the same time. Not standard protocol that one! But it gave him a way in to being able to look after his dad, to be part of it and help. I think if the kids are part of it, if they’re not left out and there are no secret chats in other rooms they can learn and get a bit of wisdom from that.

So many of my best friends, friends and acquaintances have been so supportive – I’ve felt like I can rely on them all. A very few people have stopped contact with me completely – it’s sad but I think that the idea of cancer scares them too much.

I began by wanting to be an ambulance driver but I was too young – they needed people to be above 21 years of age – so I took on nurse training to help me get there. I ended up enjoying working in A&E so much that I decided to stay and never did become a paramedic. It’s a challenging role from both sides and I appreciate that even more now I’ve become more acquainted with it all.

A sign of the support I’ve been lucky enough to receive came up during my retirement party at the hospital. I was expecting it to be relatively quiet but nearly 300 people turned up including the Chief Executive of the whole trust. You know that people are supporting you but it’s hard to sometimes make it real in your own mind. I’m a practical, no-nonsense sort of man but that show of support made it feel huge to me and quite overwhelming – I think I even got a bit teary. I’ll never forget that.'

An A&E nurse, Dave and his wife along with colleagues organised a take-over of Eastbourne Parkrun last year raising £2,006 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice! Dave had planned to take to the skies on 29th April, having raised over £1,200 so far, but due to bad weather has had to rearrange for 20th May instead. What a hero!


We'll be updating this blog with more photos of Dave's skydive and his efforts to raise funds for the hospice very soon.