Sue, who is 68 and has been volunteering at St Wilfrid’s since she retired from East Sussex County Council, has shown amazing strength after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and given just weeks to live.  

Sue is now sorting out her affairs in preparation for her death and organising her own funeral.

She and her husband, Alan, also threw one ‘final big party’ for friends and family, which the couple described as ‘upbeat, relaxed and informal.’

Sue said, ‘Whilst it is incredibly sad, I think I have been given an amazing and special privilege and a unique opportunity.

‘When someone has a terminal illness they know they are going to die. I want to take full advantage of the unusual position I find myself in to be able to choose to do the things that matter to me.’

‘Few people get to hear the things people say about them – either good or bad – which seems a real shame.’

Sue’s son, two step-children and seven grandchildren are devastated by the news but are now spending as much quality time together as possible.

The family has been using the final weeks of Sue’s life as an opportunity to capture precious memories by taking silly photos.

Alan said, ‘These photos will be so important to us in years to come. The family is distraught, emotional and devastated, but conversely, Sue has taken the prognosis on board in the most inspirational way. 
She is stoic in her approach to this situation.’

Sue’s frank and open attitude towards death has made her a much-valued member of the team at St Wilfrid’s.  

Rhiannon Wheeler, the hospice’s Voluntary Services Manager, said, ‘It was clear that Sue was going to be an asset to the volunteer team at St Wilfrid’s as soon as we met her.

‘She is open and warm, instantly likeable, very engaged with life and switched on to the hospice movement.

‘Sue has had a big impact on the work of the hospice since she has been here, a valued member of the host team and always a pleasure to be around. We shall miss her a lot.’

Sue’s story coincides with Dying Matters Week (13th-19th May), which the hospice will be marking with a series of awareness events

A nationwide poll found that although 70 per cent of people say they feel comfortable talking about death, only a third have actually discussed their wishes in relation to their own death.

Dying Matters encourages people to make a will, deciding to donate organs, or discuss future care wishes with a family member.

Conversations are the first step – and can help us, and our communities, to be ready for death, dying and the bereavement process.

Sue added, ‘I think now we choose to talk about death a little more and we are more accepting of it.’