Please donate, and help us care for local families this Christmas
The Porter family: "Our Christmas Wish, is for people to support North Devon Hospice with a special Christmas donation. Thank you."
Please read the Porter family's story, and help us to care for other local families who are going through the same incredibly tough times.
Natasha (aged 35) was married to Dan, having met as childhood sweethearts, and they raised 4 beautiful children – the oldest Hollie (now 13), Emma, Daniel and the youngest Harry (8). Family life was perfect. Natasha told us "Dan was my soulmate, my best friend and the most wonderful father to our children, he was their hero!"
In 2017, Dan began to cough up blood and put it down to a Christmas cough. After a number of hospital visits and a CT scan, Natasha and Dan received the devastating news that Dan was riddled with cancer and had only a few months to live. Natasha said "It was a huge shock and I just didn’t know how we were going to tell our children, we were in absolute turmoil."
Natasha and Dan struggled to get the support they needed. Life had fallen apart. Eventually they got referred to North Devon Hospice and Community Nurse, Jackie, went to their home to visit. Natasha said "Jackie was absolutely amazing. She sorted out Dan’s medication, gave me support and advice when we needed it and even arranged a family holiday for us all in Woolacombe. Dan won the children lots of tokens on the machines, which they still talk about today. Jackie transformed everything."
Little did they realise at the time, but Dan would never make it home again after the holiday. Just days into their break, Dan became really unwell and Natasha had to call an ambulance. Natasha recalled: "Dan was a fighter, but I knew we were in big trouble. Dan’s medication was all over the place, we didn’t know what was going on but then Jackie from the hospice came to see me at the hospital and arranged for Dan to be transferred to the hospice’s Bedded Unit. I didn’t really know what the hospice was and what it did. I froze and was petrified before I stepped inside, but it was absolutely beautiful and lovely. They sorted out Dan’s medication and the children got to visit him and were made to feel so welcome. Dan was back to normal, he was walking, talking and laughing with us all. The children were cuddling him, doing their homework on his lap. The impact the Hospice has made on our lives is something we will treasure forever."
Dan spent the next few days at the hospice and it was on the Friday morning when Natasha was told that she really needed to get her family together to say farewell. Natasha said: "It hadn’t sunk in at all. My youngest son, Harry had asked if Daddy would be home for Christmas, but the nurses sensitively told them that he wouldn’t be here by the end of the day. Holly in the other room was making a friendship bracelet for her Dad when Jackie told me that Dan hadn’t got much time left. Dan passed away in my arms. It was one last smile, so painful to remember, but yet so beautiful. I turned to the children and told them - 'I just got Daddy’s last smile.’"
The nurses went with the children into the hospice gardens to pick a rose each for their Dad and placed it on the bed. Natasha said: "The impact the hospice makes is just unbelievable. I can’t explain it. For someone’s life to end the way Dan’s did was absolutely beautiful, you couldn’t have written it down. The work the hospice does, it’s amazing. I would have dreaded to be at hospital during the end. There’s nothing in this world that I can do to repay the hospice for their support."
Sixteen months on and the hospice is still supporting Natasha and her family. This Christmas, they are planning a trip to remember. Natasha told us: "When Dan was here, we all loved Christmas. I’ve put away every penny from my widow's pension and we’re all going on one last holiday from Daddy – a trip to Lapland! The main man is missing, but we are going to make wonderful memories, because sometimes these are all you have left."
Please help North Devon Hospice, to support more families like Natasha’s over the festive period with a special Christmas donation. Choose to support us with a single donation or a regular donation by clicking the button below.