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Phil’s story: Hospiscare is a place to live your life

"The volunteers are fantastic, the staff are fantastic. It’s a place to live your life.”

Phil Sampson had a rich, varied life, including working for the Royal Marines and MI5 and, in later life, setting up business leadership consultancy, Sampson Hall. Phil sadly died of prostate cancer in 2023. Before he died, Phil shared some of his life lessons with us.

Phil’s career informed the way he thought of his diagnosis: “Basically, if you think you’ve lost, you’ve lost. Henry Ford’s ‘If you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right’ is a great quote … You’ve got to think you can and in thinking you can, you can get through everything.”

Phil’s wife Sandra was by his side throughout his illness and was with Phil when they were told his cancer was terminal.

Phil said, “We didn’t cry at the time. We both walked out and thought, ‘Right, this is the next battle. We’re going to get on and fight it as far and hard as we can – and we have done. Now, we’ve cried since then a lot, but we’ve laughed a lot too. To be open and honest with each other and to laugh at every opportunity that you’ve got is key to making sure that you exist in this world and make the most of the life you’ve got left.”

Despite Phil initially thinking of Hospiscare as “a place to die,” he soon changed his mind after experiencing the hospice. “I’ve been in twice so far and I’ve come out better for it. The volunteers are fantastic, the staff are fantastic. It’s a place to live your life.”

At Hospiscare, we stay true to our motto “because every day matters.” We do this by focusing on the person, not just the illness, which means working to achieve the things that are important to our patients and their families and going the extra mile to enable special moments whenever we can.

In Phil and Sandra’s case, that meant bubble baths in our adapted bathroom for Phil and organising a dinner for their anniversary. Phil told us, “We had a candle, a bottle of wine and our own two places set, which was amazing. It was a superb dinner.”

Phil’s step-daughter started raising money for Hospiscare after seeing first hand the quality of the support the hospice offers.

Phil explained, “I didn’t realise that the hospice didn’t get any substantial government funding. Hospiscare is a vital part of our society and it should be looked after and donated to as much as possible because it helps so many people in so many wonderful ways.”

Phil had a few years to come to terms with his diagnosis and prepare for death. One thing he did was prepare a special box for each family member. “In each box is a load of stuff; some of it is total naff, but some of it will be naff that they remember me by.

In the weeks before his death, Phil had this to say about his legacy: “I have no fear of moving on. The people I worry about are those I’ll leave behind, not myself as I march on further into the distance. I’d like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed life and I’d like my family to remember that I’m always with them. As I say to them regularly, I’ll be the wind, I’ll be the sea, I’ll be the air around you, I’ll be the clouds… I’ll always be there to help you.”

Will YOU help us bridge the gap whilst we negotiate with the ICB and continue to provide compassionate end-of-life care for local people and families like Phil’s?

We receive only 18% of our funding from the Integrated Care Board (ICB), the local organisation that allocates government healthcare funding. This is well below the national average of 37% that other hospices receive. As a result, we are currently campaigning for an additional £1.4 million from the ICB to enable us to continue running our specialist end-of-life services at the current level.

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