Shaun and Teresa met at work and within a few months were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Over their 18-year relationship, Teresa’s inspirational positivity helped her battle several types of cancer and severe lymphoedema, with support from our Hospice teams. Shaun, and the couple’s five daughters, cared for Teresa at home until she passed away peacefully in summer 2023. 


I told Teresa I loved her every day, multiple times a day. I’m just biased, obviously, but she was perfect. She always had a smile on her face, before she was ill and even after.  

We both worked for Royal Mail when we met. Teresa had breast cancer, and me and a couple of other people helped organise a charity do for her. A few days before the event, I was diagnosed with breast cancer too. I’d found a pea-sized lump when I was having a shower one day.  

Being treated together 

From there, Teresa and I got much closer and ended up becoming an item. She was three months ahead of me with her chemo. There were times I’d go in to support her and I was being sick myself. In a selfish way, I was quite lucky because I was aware of what was going to happen. For Teresa it was all new. She was unprepared.  

We had two weeks before starting our radiotherapy, so we went to Egypt and had an amazing holiday. They booked our radiotherapy appointments at the hospital together. Teresa would go on the machine first and then I’d go on the exact same one after her.  

Thriving as a family 

“Teresa moulded me back into a person I loved again.”

That was all the treatment finished, for both of us. In 2007 we bought our house in Bletchley, where we’ve been ever since. We had five lovely girls between us from previous relationships, and luckily they accepted us as a couple. Our bond as a family just grew and grew.  

Teresa calmed me down. I used to be a person that I didn’t like. I wasn’t happy. Then from us getting together, what she enlightened me with and how she looked on life, moulded me back into a person I loved again. I thrived because of her. That’s what she did for a lot of people. 

New battles

The doctors said it wasn’t curable, but it was treatable.”

Then, about six years ago, Teresa got a bit of swelling in her arm. She was referred to the Lymphoedema service at Willen Hospice and met Kate, a specialist lymphoedema nurse. Kate assessed the swelling and asked if there were any other symptoms. Teresa mentioned her sciatica in her hip. Kate wasn’t happy about that and immediately put Teresa forward for a scan to get it checked out. It turned out Teresa had bone cancer in her pelvis. The doctors said it wasn’t curable, but it was treatable. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for Kate sending Teresa for that scan, I wouldn’t have had her for those last few years.

Teresa pretty much led a normal life, until she started getting confused and having mild headaches. A brain scan found a 7cm tumour behind her left eye and a few other lesions scattered elsewhere. After being operated on, Teresa was given 12 months to live. From that 12 months, we had nearly three years.  

Becoming a carer 

Over the last year of Teresa’s life, everything changed a lot. She got a fracture in her pelvis. She started forgetting things. Her communication was hit and miss. The lymphoedema in her arm was getting worse. She had no movement in her right hand, so had to adapt to write with her left. She couldn’t open or grip things.  

The lymphoedema nurses, Kate and Carly, would come out and do Teresa’s dressings, which definitely slowed down the lack of movement. They’d teach me how to help too. Whenever I called, the team’s administrator, Eleanor, was on the other end of the phone to support me.  

In sickness and in health 

“We wanted to make every day a special day, so that’s what we did.”

Teresa stayed in the In-Patient Unit at the Hospice twice for pain management. When she came home the second time, she wasn’t able to go upstairs. So our conservatory became her bedroom. It worked and Teresa wanted to stay at home. I was able to look after her and spend quality time with her. Everyone used to say how amazing I was. But as her husband, in sickness and in health, that’s what you would do. And the five girls and their partners were all helping me. We’re a team. 

When we knew Teresa didn’t have long, we wanted to make every day a special day, so that’s what we did. We spent time with her, we played music and we sung with her. We’d do two-hour shifts, taking it in turns looking after her. We had the Willen at Home nurses visiting too. They were amazing. 

Final goodbye 

I wanted to hold Teresa’s hand and kiss her as she passed. We knew we were going to lose her and none of us wanted to miss saying goodbye. So no matter how sad it was, it was priceless.  

I sit in the conservatory a lot now. It’s where she passed, but I just find comfort there. It’s where she wanted to be.  

Thankful for support 

“With Kate and Carly, it was never about just doing a job.”

I could give the Lymphoedema team a million pounds and it still wouldn’t be enough to say thank you. I just want them to know that what they’re doing really is working. Helping the patient and making their life as easy as possible.

With Kate and Carly, it was never about just doing a job. They would ask how my family were and ask how I was – if I was coping and what I needed support with.  

Before Teresa passed, we had a talk about keeping her legacy going and how we could help the Lymphoedema service. When she passed, we set up a donations page and raised about £4,000 from family and friends. Now we’re doing a football scratch card every month within the family, and a poker night and golf day to raise money for them.  

Cherished memories 

“I’d do it all again just to be with her.”

One thing I would say Teresa helped me with was being positive. We focused on having lots of holidays, making good memories and cherishing family time. I believe the more positive you are and the better things you’re doing, the longer you can live.  

Teresa was a truly amazing person. I was a lucky man to have her. I wouldn’t change one thing, because of the time we had and the person she turned me back into. Even knowing how hard it was, I don’t regret it and I’d do it all again just to be with her.