Last updated: May 2023
Five years ago, Phil lost his wife, Jan when she was just 57 years old. Phil’s association with St Margaret’s Hospice began long before Jan fell ill, he joined a St Margaret’s team trekking the Great Wall of China and then completed a challenging climb in the Himalayas to raise vital funds. “It was way out of my comfort zone but quite simply it was life changing!”
Little did he know that a few years later, his family would need to call upon the support of St Margaret’s Hospice.
His wife Jan received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2013, within a year she had been given the all clear. But the cancer returned. Phil describes receiving the news “it was like being on a movie set, it just didn’t feel real, and I realised that tough times were ahead of us.” Despite everything he knew about the hospice, the future felt very daunting.
Jan was a very strong and thoughtful woman and Phil took his strength from her. “When you’re the other person, especially as a bloke, you’re throw into an unwelcome situation. You have no choice; just get on with it”.
Their son, Josh was at university and Phil recalls going to visit him shortly after Jan received her terminal diagnosis. They ate fish and chips and talked frankly about death. He remembers telling Josh “It will be just you and me in the future” and while it was incredibly difficult, Phil says “it was the best thing we did.” They have an incredibly close bond, having faced the worst of times together. Phil believes out of adversity, Josh became a better person. “I’m incredibly proud of him.”
Six months before Jan died, she undertook counselling and encouraged Phil to do the same. At first, he didn’t think it was for him, but it was something he never regretted. “It gave me an opportunity to pour my heart out, you don’t know what’s around the corner… talking helps”.
Phil grew close with other families going through the same experiences and following Jan’s death, joined the hospice cookery club for bereaved partners. Phil talks fondly of Mike, who he met at there, he said it was “cathartic to talk about the loss of a wife”.
“I was sorry when the cookery lessons finished – this is where friendships where build – plus we had such a laugh!
Phil advocates the need to talk to friends, share your experiences and stories. He regularly gets together with his friends, particularly in his local pub and they chat together about their problems.
You can join Phil along with many others at our Big Somerset Cricket Bash this summer, where you’ll complete a charity walk and finish at the County Ground to cheer on Somerset Cricket Club while raising vital funds for your local hospice.
By raising sponsorship, you’ll support patients as well as their families here in Somerset just like Phil, Jan and Josh while they face a life limiting illness.