Jonathan Clark – fundraiser
I was seven when I overheard that my mum had cancer, but at that age it didn’t really mean a lot. Over the next couple of years the cancer would be treated and cured, life would be back to normal for a while, then it would come back.
When I was old enough to understand what was going on, I got scared. What could I do to help? Not a great deal to be honest. Why me? Why my mum? No one could answer the questions, and life went on around me. Five years after her diagnosis, my mum came home and asked me into a room away from my sister.
“I’ve got two weeks left to live.” The look on her face and sound of her voice, I can still see as clear as day 30 years later. I was 12.
My mum went to be cared for at Dorothy House and I will never forget the people, the help and the understanding we all received there. All the staff during our visits over those brief two weeks were extremely helpful and kind. On my first visit I went to the little in-house shop which was basically a table with pens, pencils, and notepads. I purchased a little notepad with a beautiful picture of Bath Abbey at night on the front cover.
Over the following week I recorded our visits, wrote poems and put in silly little things like the Mars bar wrapper from the Mars bar that my mum gave me on our first visit. Was this a coping mechanism? I don’t know. I still have the note pad stored safely away.
I was only allowed to visit during the first week as my mum deteriorated quickly and by the end of that week my father and Dorothy House staff were wetting my mum’s lips with an ice cube. It’s a vision that will stay with me forever and to be honest I wish I’d not seen it. When the nurse saw we were distressed, she took me and my sister out of the room and played with us for an hour or so while we waited for our dad.
Staff at Dorothy House do such things on a daily basis, and are hugely supportive. People don’t realise what a difference this kind of care can make to the end of someone’s life. I can remember my dad giving nothing but praise on the help and advice he was receiving from Dorothy House.
I can’t remember much about the time immediately after my mum passed away – everything seems a blur. We were invited to a summer barbecue at Dorothy House which I think was in the August of the same year. This was a fantastic idea as all those who attended had lost a family member – there were Dorothy House staff, mums, dads and children. The grounds were massive and I can remember the adventures I had with my sister and two other children, while the adults no doubt talked about the future and how they were coping.
What could I do at the time? Nothing. What can I do now? This year, I’m planning to cycle from my home in Yorkshire to Dorothy House to hand over a cheque, and I’m aiming to complete the 280 miles in one go. Fingers crossed I’ll have done over 5,000 miles by then and raised an amount that can help Dorothy House continue to do what they did for me and my family 30 years ago.