Paul Curtis shares how John Taylor Hospice helped him, his wife Sam and their children to ‘make the most of every day together’.
When Sam and I met at work we just hit it off instantly. We got on unbelievably well and we grew close. One Valentine’s Day I bought her a card and we arranged to go on a date in Sutton Coldfield. It went from there really!
She was bubbly, generous and kind – a true diamond. We married on 7 July 2007 and had such a fun, relaxed and special day. It wasn’t a big do as we didn’t have much money back then. But it wasn’t about a fancy reception or expensive outfits for us – all we needed was each other and it was about celebrating our love and deep friendship.
In 2011, just shortly after our first seaside family holiday with the children, Sam was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It rocked her confidence but she tried to stay strong for my sake and to protect our children. That was Sam – always thinking of others before herself.
After the treatment, Sam and I decided to quit smoking and start vaping. The vaping liquids were so expensive that I started to mix my own. I put some posts on Facebook advertising my vape juice and it really took off! Over the years Sam and I watched our business venture grow from a £50 start-up in our home in Castle Vale into a successful business – Zeus Juice Ltd – which now employs 23 staff and stocks over 140 shops across the UK.
Jenny, who is one of the hospice’s Clinical Nurse Specialists, visited us regularly and she arranged for Sam to have a hospital bed in the living room as she could no longer make it upstairs. Jenny and the Hospice at Home Team did everything they could to try and make Sam as comfortable as possible.
Sam was admitted to John Taylor’s In-Patient Unit in July 2017. She didn’t want me to leave her side and I didn’t want to leave her either. The nurses arranged that I could sleep in a bed next to Sam meaning I could also be comfortable and stay close by.
She struck up a great friendship with Nurse Manager Lynne Kenny and they were always laughing and joking! Sam couldn’t eat too much at that point but she loved the soups made by Head Chef Steve. The staff all looked after us so well and they really couldn’t have done any more than they did.
It was during her ten days in the hospice ward that Sam said she wanted to help the hospice staff. Two of her final wishes were to ask for donations to the hospice in lieu of flowers and for me to make a sizeable donation from our business.
Sam passed away on 10 August 2017 – just two weeks after her 50th birthday. I fulfilled her wish by presenting the staff with a cheque for £10,000 from Zeus Juice Ltd and setting up a JustGiving page in Sam’s memory. Through that page, our kind and generous family, friends and colleagues helped to raise more than £5,000 for the hospice.
To all the staff at John Taylor Hospice I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you. Your care is unsurpassed and you helped our family to make the most of every day together. And to Sam – an incredible woman, mother-of-five and my soulmate – you’re loved, missed and forever in our hearts.