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Jill Mason

Three months have now passed since my family lost my mum, Jill. They say time is a healer, but as each day passes we slowly learn to cope without her. It’s not been easy I can assure you, but it is not a process that I could ever have envisaged going through without the support of St. Michael’s Hospice in Basingstoke.

Ever since my mum was transferred to the Hospice in August, I cannot ever begin to describe how amazing the place is. It became a home from home for us all in many ways. My dad stayed virtually every night during her multiple week stay, and the staff were personable, friendly, caring yet utterly professional. It made all the difference in what was a very upsetting time.

Before her transfer, I had a preconceived view of what to expect from a Hospice. I expected them to be very clinical, cold, and sterile and caring for people of a certain more “senior” age. How wrong I was, and in many ways it was utterly refreshing.

When it was made clear that nothing more can be done to help my mum after her tremendously brave five year battle with secondary breast cancer, we were told she would be transferred to the Hospice for her remaining days. She was only 56 years old.

I remember the day she was transferred; I rushed to see her on a day off and was immediately greeted by a very friendly receptionist. She understood what was happening, and very calmly directed me to where my mum would be staying. She was with my dad, and was talking things through with one of the doctors. They were so honest and clear in how they explained things to us all. The room was homely, and totally contradicted my previous preconceptions. It had to be; unfortunately my mum would never be coming home.

Every day we visited her, and every day we were blown away with the staff and exceptional level of care she received. She was extremely comfortable and settled – more so than I could ever have imagined. Unfamiliar faces became ever more approachable and friendly. It was because of this level of care that I, during times of reflection at home, away from the Hospice, started exploring ways that I could begin to repay them for what they had helped us with to this point. Throughout her life, my mum was always interested in athletics, and in particular running. We would always have the Olympic Games, Great North Run and London Marathon on television at home growing up. It epitomised everything she believed in – if you work hard, prepare correctly and believe that you can do something, then anything is possible. This attitude struck a chord with me, and as I grew up (and became a parent myself) I started to understand what she meant all these years.

It wasn’t until my latter 20’s that I decided to start running myself. I had previously enjoyed cross country on those cold winter mornings at school, and also dabbled with the gym when I started working. However, I wanted to take it more seriously, to set myself challenging goals, but goals that I could achieve if I put in the time and effort.

The early months were spent trying to get to 5k (a little over 3 miles). It was tough, but each time brought with it a sense of satisfaction and time for clearing the head. I had caught the running bug. I was hooked. The distances steadily increased, and I wanted to tackle something bigger.  So I entered the Basingstoke Half Marathon in 2013 to raise money for my cousin, who we also unfortunately lost earlier that year. My mum always supported me, and was there to watch me cross the finish line. Since then she had done this on a number of races, even when she began to become weaker through her progressive illness and treatment. I knew this made her immensely proud.

In her latter days in St. Michael’s Hospice, we discussed the one thing that she wished she saw me complete, and that’s the London Marathon. I vowed to her that I will do it one day, and that I will make her proud once again. Unfortunately it wasn’t long after this that her condition deteriorated and she unfortunately passed away peacefully at the Hospice on 21st September 2015.Emotional, sensitive and confused, I looked for some way to channel my grief, yet be able to make the promise I had made come good. It is then I turned to St. Michael’s Hospice for the opportunity to support them in the London Marathon on 24th April 2016. I wasn’t the only one, many had contacted them for a chance to repay them for the tireless, devoted work that they do to improve the lives of all those affected by terminal illness. When I found out that I had secured the place I was over the moon.

I couldn’t describe how supportive the Hospice has been for us, both during my mum’s stay, yet also after her passing. They have provided emotional support to the family to help ease the grieving process. I know my family are just one of many that they deal with, but it has all felt so personal. That’s what makes them special.

I am looking to raise as much money as is physically possible to help sustain the exceedingly high quality of care which is provided at the Hospice. I know that money is precious, and that every penny does in fact count. The initial target provided by the Hospice was £1,800, and at the time of  writing we have together exceeded £2,000.  I would love this to continue to grow.

Please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/davidmason1982 to see more around  my story.

Keep up the amazing work.