When Denise received a diagnosis that she had just a few months to live, she and her husband, Paul, began planning to make the most of their time together - travelling, spending time with family and seeing the things they wanted to see. After three years of defying the diagnosis, Denise died peacefully in the care of the hospice team in May 2018. Paul was bereft. But he wasn't beaten. He explained how he's making a difference and learning his way through loss in a short interview with us.

'Denise and I were married for a month short of 34 years. We both had a dry sense of humour, which probably helped us cope with her illness.

Paul and Denise in Rome during her illness

Denise was extremely kind and would help anybody out; she was a children’s nurse at Conquest Hospital and we often met parents of children she had looked after, who remembered her for years afterwards. Denise had a sense of fun & adventure and we had so many lovely holidays together -  she was always willing to try something new and went snorkelling, white water rafting, jeep safaris and even riding camels.

Best of all, Denise loved her family and would do anything for any of us. Christmas was her favourite time of year and she would pull out all the stops to make it magical for everybody, especially spoiling the children!

It was a huge shock when Denise was given an initial prognosis of 3-6 months or up to a year with treatment. I gave up my job to be with Denise and we found out almost immediately that we were going to be grandparents for the first time. Denise was determined to be around to see our Grandchild. As it turned out, she also saw his second birthday! Denise responded well to chemotherapy and we were able to live an almost normal life for 18 months, although we knew she wouldn’t be cured.

We were honest with our family. We didn't want to give them false hope. However we still enjoyed quality time and trips together that we never thought we would have, like our daughter’s wedding, seeing our first grandchild and family holidays together in Spain and Mexico. We basically coped by setting short term plans of up to 3 months until Denise started to deteriorate in February of this year and was in and out of hospital.

It was obviously a worrying time, as we didn’t know how long Denise would be in the hospice for. All the staff and volunteers in the hospice made us all feel welcome and worked hard to manage Denise’s pain. At one time we thought we would be coming home, but unfortunately Denise had a relapse and it wasn’t possible.

For the last 2 weeks, Denise was slipping in and out of consciousness and we stayed permanently in the hospice to be with her the whole time. The staff were fantastic and worked around us to keep Denise comfortable to the end. 

I remind myself that I am performing the ride in Denise’s memory and when I consider the pain and inconvenience she went through over the past 3 years, dragging myself out of bed to ride a bike is the least I can do!

It will be a sad occasion as Denise won't be around to see me complete the ride, however it will give me a great sense of pride to complete the ride in her memory and at the same time raise funds for both Pancreatic Cancer UK and St Wilfrid’s Hospice as a small thank you for the support they have both given us over these past three years.'

To sponsor Paul's 100-mile cycle ride in memory of his wife, Denise, who died on May 21st at St Wilfrid's, please visit his Virgin Money Giving page