My name is Clare and I have recently joined Mountbatten as a Fundraising Manager.

I am inviting you to stand alongside our Island community this Christmas, and Light up a Life to remember someone you have loved who has died.

This Christmas, I will be dedicating a light to my mum, Maureen, who died of vulva cancer at Mountbatten in 2019. I have shared our story below:

'The light of my life'

There is a reason I am a fundraiser for Mountbatten, and that is because my passion is to make sure no family on the Isle of Wight has to go through what we went through without Mountbatten by their side.

In October 2018, our world was torn apart when my mum was diagnosed with vulva cancer at just 58. Every emotion ran through my body - shock, anger, sadness, regret and more. How could this be happening and why my beautiful mum?

Our family were in a state of shock while she was rushed into scans and eventually had her first operation in November. Living on the Isle of Wight, we were back and forth to Southampton for operations, tests, and scans for the next few months. At Christmas, although mum was extremely poorly, she made the trip back to the Island to spend a few days with us at home. I wish I knew that would have been her last.

By March 2019, we knew the operations hadn’t worked, the cancer was spreading so aggressively through her body and the pain was unmanageable.  I remember arriving at her home one day to see the Mountbatten team there. Mum told me she was going to spend a short amount of time at Mountbatten to get her strength back and then come home again. She couldn’t tell me her diagnosis was terminal and as a protective mum, she couldn’t bring herself to say those words.

The moment she arrived at the Mountbatten inpatient unit, the stress of constant visits across the water was over and the focus then became spending quality time together in a safe and pain free environment. The remarkable nurses worked so hard to ensure mum's pain was under control for when my dad and brothers came to visit.

Mountbatten 'our second home'

Mountbatten became our second home. I would visit her every lunch break and my dad would visit every evening after work. The nurses kindly organised dinner each evening so they could eat together. They knew he needed to keep his strength up for the road ahead. The volunteers on the ward got to know mum so well, and always made sure she had her jelly and ice cream each evening, which took her back to her childhood.

Mum spent six months in the inpatient unit and died in August 2019. The light in our lives had gone out. The Mountbatten team were there for my family during the hardest time of our lives and without them, I can’t and won’t begin to imagine how difficult those six months could have been.

Mum was a bright shining light in our world. Kind, caring and selfless, she has left a heart-breaking hole in our lives.

This is why this Christmas, she will be my shining light on the Mountbatten tree, and we will be attending the Light up a Life service to remember the love she shared and the amazing mum she will always be. By dedicating a light this year and every year in the future, we’ll have the opportunity and dedicated time to celebrate how lucky we were to have her in our lives.

We have all experienced loss this year in one way or another, and it is, therefore, more important than ever to come together to remember and take a moment to reflect on everything and everyone we have loved and lost in our lives.  

Thank you for reading my story.