Then a month before their planned wedding, Naomi was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer, and then the country went into lockdown. At St Helena Hospice, we offer local people access to hospice care and bereavement support, regardless of diagnosis or personal circumstance. During Pride month, Georgina shares their story…
I was out on a night with some work friends and we went to a nightclub that had a gay night on and we exchanged numbers, and a couple of days later we met up again. It was just amazing and we hit it off straight away. She moved into mine about five months later, and yeah, we were just madly in love. We just clicked. We got engaged a year later. The wedding was planned for April 2020 and she was diagnosed a month before, and then Covid hit. Naomi wanted the wedding that we originally planned for, so we put it off a year, and then things deteriorated from there.
We knew we had to get it done sooner than planned, so we got married on our 10 year anniversary of when we first got together, 16th of February, that was our first date after we met at the nightclub. It was so cold as you can imagine in February.
Our wedding was beautiful. It was lockdown during the time we got married so we could only have two best women, her best friend and my best friend, and her mum and dad. Naomi’s dad started walking her down the aisle and then I came along and then he walked us both down the aisle to Beyoncé. It was beautiful.
We got the dresses from the same shop but we visited the shop at different days. Neither of us knew what each other's dress would look like, and it was just like they were perfect matches.
Naomi proposed to me in 2012. She took me to a spa overnight, sent me downstairs and then called me up and she had petals all over the bed and proposed. We didn't decide to get married until 2019. She was diagnosed in 2020, diagnosed stage four, so it had already spread everywhere. It was just heartbreaking, really heartbreaking, and seeing her deteriorate was just horrific.
After the ceremony we came back home and we had some champagne and we did our first dance to Ed Sheeran in the kitchen. That was lovely but I think she was probably trying to push herself; she didn't give too much away.
I think because Nai didn't want to know her prognosis, people had to be very careful with their words, but I knew what was coming. I didn't expect it to be that quick. I think everyone knew her prognosis wasn't great but she possibly outlived what people were saying.
Painful, just painful and it still is just incredibly painful. I sometimes feel like I'm walking around in a bubble because you know everyone else’s lives move on. People get on with their lives, people don't phone you up or come round as much as they used to, people just get on with their lives because that's what we do. And I feel like I'm just stuck without her and it feels like nothing really is ever going to change for me because she's not here anymore. But I know things will. I'm living with it better each day but it's still incredibly hard. My life isn't going to be the same again.
Everyone at the Hospice has been fantastic, they treated us just like anyone else. There was no awkwardness in terms of our sexuality.
Some people do find it awkward still if I say ‘oh my wife’, they just look at me as if to say that's a bit…
Nai was very much out and proud, I've always been a little bit more reserved, and Nai wouldn't have been bothered in a ward environment at the Hospice. I think for me to show my affection might have been a little bit more... I think I would have shied away a little bit more if I was on a ward.
I’m a nurse myself so I know that as a whole, nurses, doctors, we don't have that prejudice, we accept people for who they are. Nai was the same, she worked in that sort of environment, she was always very passionate about her job; she was a child protection social worker. Hard job, but she fought for her children that she was working with.
So I wasn't worried about prejudice going into the Hospice at all and Nai wasn’t either.
Debbie, our Hospice nurse, visited us at home quite a few times, she was fantastic. We went away for a couple of days and stayed in a treehouse in Kent. The bedroom had a glass ceiling so you looked up at the stars. It was beautiful. Nai was on a syringe driver so Debbie arranged for the district nurses from that area to come out while we were there.
We couldn't do much because we were in lockdown and that was just the worst, having that diagnosis but also being restricted, not being able to go out. We managed to do two holidays in the Yorkshire Dales and then in Wales; there she really struggled.
So we did a few things during lockdown, but we would have wanted to do a lot more.
We loved walking. One of our favourite places, and especially Nai’s favourite place, was the Yorkshire Dales. We had some lovely holidays like the Isle of Skye, and I love Wales, so we used to go there a lot. She got me into nature; bird watching we used to enjoy. We had lots of things in common. We liked travelling, mainly in Europe, we used to go the Greek islands.
Naomi died at home. I just woke up and she had gone. She hadn't been great all week and did go in the Hospice and came back out again because she wanted to be at home. She went away with her friend to London at the weekend to the Banksy exhibition, and she came back and she said, ‘I'm not feeling right’. She was getting quite agitated and her breathing wasn't great and I was trying to calm her down and control her breathing. I spoke to the SinglePoint that night and they were going to give me a call again in the morning, but I woke up in the morning and she'd gone, so it was very quick.
Ronnie, our dog, knew she was ill. He's got a lot more protective over me since. I think dogs pick it up, they know when someone's ill, and I think he knew that she had died because he sleeps on the bed so when she had gone, he was licking her face... so yeah, he knew that she'd gone.
Naomi was bubbly, fun loving, she could be quite feisty. She always wore her heart on her sleeve. If she didn't agree with something she would stick up for you, protect you. She was very loyal to her friends, her family. She loved her family to bits, loved her mum and dad to bits, she would do anything for them, and she would do anything for me, and the people she loved around her.
I'm just so proud of her. Even when she was ill and she was at the Hospice, she wanted to raise money for St Helena. She had a Go Fund Me page and while she was at the Hospice, she was taking pictures of herself and raised thousands of pounds through that. And then there were thousands more through the Hospice's Miles of Hope campaign too. She was always thinking about other people and what she could do to support. Nai was a special person, very special person. She just embraced life.
A new home care business has been launched to directly support Colchester based charity, St Helena Hospice. The new Radfield Home Care office has been established in partnership with St Helena Hospice to directly generate funds for the hospice.View more
Anna is training to run the Chelmsford marathon proudly wearing a St Helena vest embellished with the name of her friend Mandy who is receiving treatment for cancer. Anna’s own condition, functional neurological disorder, makes it an extra personal challenge.View more
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