Heartbreaking moment little girl, 2, ‘visited’ her dying father, 30, through a hospice window after Covid-19 symptoms kept them apart before a final family reunion at home
- Jess Hammond, 30 and from Tavistock, Devon, married Tom, 31, in 2017
- He had migraines from aged 15 and was diagnosed with brain tumour in teens
- Couple’s daughter Poppy, two, showed signs of Covid-10 so she had to isolate
- Tom recently lost his fight with cancer at home, with wife Jess at his bedside
A heartbroken mother has told how her cancer-stricken husband wasn’t able to cuddle their two-year-old daughter on his deathbed after she developed symptoms of Covid-19 and was forced to isolate.
Jess Hammond, 30, from Tavistock, Devon, explained how she was already dealing with the heartbreaking news that her 30-year-old husband Tom’s time was running short due to a brain tumour first diagnosed in his teens.
However, when the couple’s daughter Poppy developed suspected Covid-19 symptoms, it meant it wasn’t safe for either of them to be at Tom’s bedside at St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth’s specialist unit.
The separation dealt another cruel blow to the family – which includes Josh, Tom’s nine-year-old son from a previous relationship – because he was so ill by that point, Jess didn’t know if they’d ever see him again.
Thankfully, Tom was reunited with his family at home in the last weeks of his life, after receiving care from the hospice’s Urgent Care Team four times a day, but recently passed away, with Jess at his bedside.
‘On Tom’s last day, we made it really positive with lots of family and friends around, just as he wanted,’ explained Jess. ‘At the end though, it was just me with him that evening.
Jess Hammond, 30, from Tavistock, Devon, has told of her heartbreak after her two-year=old daughter Poppy had to forego cuddles with her cancer-stricken dad Tom, 31, on his deathbed because of Covid-19. Pictured, seeing each other through the hospice window
Before the pandemic, Tom would receive regular visits from his son Josh – who he would play Xbox with – and daughter Poppy, aged two (pictured, together)
When Poppy started developing suspected COVID-19 symptoms, it meant it wasn’t safe for her or Jess to be at Tom’s bedside at St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth’s specialist unit. Pictured, the family together
‘I sat by his bed, simply saying to him the kind of things he’d say to Josh and Poppy at bedtime.
‘Then he just fell asleep. It was like he’d waited for everyone else to go so that I could have those final precious moments alone with him.’
Now, Jess is sharing her story for Hospice Care Week (which takes place from 5 – 11 October ) – the annual Hospice UK campaign highlighting what it takes for hospices to provide high-quality end of life care at no cost to the patients they serve.
Tom first started getting migraines from the age of 15, which progressively got worse over time.
Then, when he reached the age of 20, he learned he had a benign tumour the size of a lemon. Following an operation to remove some, but not all of it, in his teens, further tumours then developed, which turned out to be cancerous.
By the time Jess met Tom at a nightclub in Plymouth in 2012, Tom had already undergone surgery and further treatment for the tumour.
‘It was so hard realising Poppy and I had to isolate when all I wanted was for us to be with Tom at Turnchapel,’ said Jess, who tied the knot with Tom in 2017. ‘He was so poorly by that point that I didn’t even know if we would see him again.
Jess (pictured) said that when Poppy had to isolate, Tom was so poorly, they didn’t know if they’d ever see him again
Jess told how she and Tom were ‘always out having fun together, going to festivals or taking the children to Tavistock Park to feed the ducks.’ Pictured, together at a festival
As soon as Poppy was safe enough to leave isolation, Jess drove the pair straight to the hospice, where a nurse arranged for them to see Tom through a window.
‘The moment Poppy saw her daddy there, she ran straight up to him,’ recalled Jess. ‘She put her hand up to glass and Tom put his hand up as well.
‘It was so lovely but also so hard because all we wanted to do was to give him a cuddle. I’m just so grateful though, that we even got that time.’
Tom had been transferred to the specialist unit just weeks earlier in March, following treatment at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.
Jess – who says her husband was the ‘loveliest, the most laidback person you could ever meet’ – went on to explain how Tom felt ‘very comfortable’ at the hospice – adding that it was like a ‘retreat’ with a sea-view room and even a drinks trolley.
She added the family would regularly visit Tom – with Josh playing on the X-box with his dad and Poppy dressing-up in the playroom. However, when the pandemic hit, it meant visiting hours had to be restricted.
Jess said that as a husband and as a dad, he couldn’t have loved the family any more if he’d tried. Pictured, Tom with Poppy
Jess added that Tom was the ‘loveliest, the most laidback person you could ever meet.’ Pictured, on a day out together
‘Being the lovely, funny person he was, Tom made the nurses laugh when he’d sneak to the cleaner’s cupboard in the night and help himself to her biscuits,’ Jess explained. ‘They told me Tom made them smile at a time when they were all working under a lot of extra pressure because of the pandemic.’
In April, Tom was discharged home so that he could spend time with his loved ones, and as his condition worsened, St Luke’s End of Life Urgent Care team visited four times a day.
‘On Tom’s last day, we made it really positive with lots of family and friends around, just as he wanted,’ said Jess. ‘At the end though, it was just me with him that evening.’
‘I sat by his bed, simply saying to him the kind of things he’d say to Josh and Poppy at bedtime. Then he just fell asleep. It was like he’d waited for everyone else to go so that I could have those final precious moments alone with him.’
Jess, who has paid tribute to her husband, added: ‘Tom was the best person in the world. All my family, all his family and all our friends said so.
‘Throughout his illness he’d say, “I’m just glad it’s me” because he wouldn’t want to watch it happening to any of us.
‘As a husband and as a dad, he couldn’t have loved us any more if he’d tried and we couldn’t have loved him more either.’
In April, Tom was discharged home so that he could spend time with his loved ones. Pictured, Jess in the hospice
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