Kim's story

When Pete Middleton was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, the first thing he said to the consultant was “how long do I have left?”

“The consultant was spot on with 18 months,” says Pete’s widow, Kim, of Park South, Swindon. “Pete was a wonderful man – we’d been married 20 years and though we had both been married before he was a fabulous father to my children Kelly and Ricky – and it was just like him to take the news in such a straightforward way.”

Pete and Kim made the most of those 18 months, taking holidays and building some lovely memories. But towards the end, Pete’s strength deteriorated and he spent most of the time at home with a hospital bed downstairs and carers visiting regularly.

“Then one Saturday Pete was in dreadful pain – he was literally screaming with it – and I couldn’t get any doctor to come out quickly enough. I called Prospect Hospice – I had already visited the hospice – and they said they could take Pete in. They admitted him – he was given a single room once I explained that he was a very private man – and fitted him with a morphine pump, which took the pain away almost straight away.

“We and the Prospect Hospice staff thought he would probably pass within a few days, but although he was semi-conscious, he was still with us the following Saturday. One of the brilliant things was that we could stay in one of the charity’s lodges on site, so we were close by all the time. And they really didn’t mind that there were a lot of us in Pete’s room – they completely got how important family was to Pete.

“Every minute we were there, the staff went above and beyond for us and Pete. They always made sure he was clean and tidy, which was important to him. It was our grand-daughter’s birthday while he was there, and they were perfectly happy with 11 visitors and a roomful of balloons.

“On the Tuesday, they offered to wheel his bed out into the garden, and a robin flew down and perched on the end of his bed. It felt magical – I’ve loved anything with a robin on it ever since. And Pete’s present to me – our dog, Lexi – was allowed to visit him and curl up on his bed.

“On the Saturday morning, I needed to pop home to sort out Lexi. I got into the shower, but suddenly had a strong feeling that I should get back. I went straight back to him, sat on his bed, and was looking at a photo of our wedding when he took two breaths, and he was gone. It was all over so quickly. I felt so relieved for him that he was now at peace. The illness had taken everything from him by the end – he was such a proud man, and he’d ended up being reliant on everyone. It just wasn’t him.

“One of the things I’ll never forget is that a Prospect Hospice nurse offered to shave him after he had died. That meant so much to me – I knew that he wouldn’t want to look anything but smart, even in death – and while she did that two robins flew down and watched.”

Pete died six years ago, but Kim has supported Prospect Hospice through all that time, by donating to her local Prospect Hospice shop and donating cash she would have spent on Christmas cards to the hospice instead.

“All Prospect Hospice’s care is absolutely free, they don’t ask for a penny,” says Kim.

“Pete dying was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, but Prospect Hospice made it the best it could be. As soon as Pete arrived at the hospice in the ambulance they said ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right’ and they made it right.

“Until you’ve experienced Prospect Hospice – especially the little things that aren’t medically related but really, really matter to you – you can’t imagine how important they are. We are so lucky to have them in our area – not everywhere has a hospice, after all. They made us feel as if we were at home – it felt as if they wrapped their arms around the whole family and hugged us all. We can never thank them enough for that.