In February 2019, David Goodman was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was admitted to the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Inpatient Unit in March this year. Maria, David’s wife, tells us about her family’s experience of her husband’s death.

'My husband David was a vibrant force of nature; charismatic and driven to make the most of every moment of his life. We were married for 40 years and looking forward to retiring together when he found out that he had advanced and aggressive prostate cancer in February 2019. He was told he had four years and was determined that those four years were going to be full to the brim with memories. We planned a caravan trip to visit every county in the UK, he bought a Jeep, which he’d always wanted, and he planned a treat for each of the children.

'He was offered a course of chemotherapy and, such was his character, he bought an electric bike so that he could cycle to and from the hospital for treatment! For a time we thought that the chemo had worked and he felt well enough that he got on with the job of helping to organise and MC a beer festival to raise money, so much so that Prostate Cancer UK tried to offer him a job! By late autumn he was feeling ill again and tests showed that the cancer was spreading aggressively, but even this didn’t quell his determination to get on with life. We renewed our wedding vows at St Mary’s Church in Willingdon and the two of us took a special trip to Salzburg in December.

'In March he was admitted to St Wilfrid’s Hospice with the aim of getting his pain under control and giving him some quality of life. I could be by his side while the team at the hospice gave him the care he needed. Lockdown happened just after he went in and, as it happened, the children had all come home so that we could all be with him. But then the restrictions that came with the Covid-19 crisis had to be imposed. It was so hard for us all, but lockdown also meant that the family were all ‘stuck’ in Eastbourne – a strange blessing at such a horrible time. We were all together and that meant so much.  

'There came a point where David had had enough and it was time for him to leave us, but he had one last desperate wish: that his family could be with him one last time. It seemed like such a simple thing, a final chance to say goodbye and to let him know how much we loved him. With the restrictions now in place at the hospice this was seemingly impossible, but not it seems for the St Wilfrid’s team.

'On a warm, April afternoon I waited by his side as his bed was pushed to the door of his room that opened out on to the garden. Waiting outside were the rest of the family; Hanna and her husband Ryan, Huw and his girlfriend Kellie, Alice and Jack. He was barely conscious but I’m sure he knew we were all there and he could hear our voices. Guided by Debbie, St Wilfrid’s Spiritual Lead, we took it in turns to talk, to tell him we loved him and say goodbye. It was simple and beautiful and a moment that we will all hold in our hearts forever and we are so grateful that the wonderful care team made it possible. David died a few hours later, 14 months after he was diagnosed and having spent eight weeks in St Wilfrid’s Hospice.'

Maria and her family will be taking part in this year’s Lights of Love event on Saturday 13th December. ‘I look forward to taking part in the Lights of Love event with my family and having a decoration dedicated to David on the tree,’ Maria said, ‘it will be a very special time.’

Lights of Love will look a little different this year, as we have had to find a new and different way to be together and remember those we have lost. To dedicate a decoration to a loved one to hang on our tree, make a donation and find out more about this year’s Lights of Love event, please visit Our annual Lights of Love event is so important to everyone and we hope that you will join us as we remember together.