Claire Sivorn learned in October last year that she may only have months left to live after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The 55-year-old and her fiancé of three years, Craig Sivorn, 57, were looking forward to their dream wedding, which was set to take place in Edinburgh this July. Sadly, just one-month after they had put their plans in motion, Claire received the shock phone call that confirmed her reoccurring backache was secondary cancer of the spine.
Following further tests and an appointment with her oncologist, Claire discovered that she also had colon cancer and was advised by her doctors to cancel her summer wedding because they feared she would not live to see the day.
With uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus restrictions and with Claire continuing to shield, the couple thought their hope of becoming husband and wife was lost.
But as soon as staff from Ashgate Hospicecare learned of the couple’s wish to be married, they immediately offered their support, helping them to secure an earlier date of 9th April at their local register office. The charity has even helped to organise the wedding flowers and booked one of their volunteer professional photographers to capture the special day for free.
Claire said that the support she had received from Ashgate Hospicecare had been “amazing” and that their help in planning her wedding went “above and beyond any expectation you could have.”
“Nothing can prepare you for finding out you have a terminal diagnosis; it was like an out of body experience. Even worse was receiving the cancer diagnosis over the phone as COVID restrictions meant people were being encouraged to stay away from the hospital,” she said.
“Just like that all your plans and dreams are gone, your future is stolen right in front of your eyes. But despite all that I knew I couldn’t just lay around waiting for it to happen, I had to get on with living and that included marrying Craig, the love of my life.
“And that’s where Ashgate really stepped up to the mark and in just five weeks they have played a crucial part in helping to pull our wedding together. They are incredibly caring people, and nothing is ever too much trouble.”
Sadly, Craig was very familiar with the care and support that Ashgate Hospicecare could offer as they had cared for his first wife before she died.
“Ashgate Hospicecare have been by my side since my initial diagnosis, as I got in touch with them right away. Not only have they been there to provide physical support with advice from a specialist Lymphoedema nurse and physiotherapy to help me to retain my independence, but they have also been crucial to my overall wellbeing.
“They are always there to provide a listening ear and it is so comforting to be able to offload to them. Especially as I sometimes struggle to believe this is really happening to me, I feel like this must be someone else’s life.
“Then I’ll get a stabbing pain in my abdomen, a nasty reminder that this is most definitely real.”
The couple were dealt a further blow in January this year when Claire was diagnosed with COVID-19 following a stay in hospital.
Claire said: “It just felt like one thing after another, and I started to wonder what else could go wrong. The worst part was not being able to have any visitors, and when you’re told your life is limited all you want to do is spend time with those you love.
“Thankfully, I was transferred to Ashgate Hospicecare’s inpatient unit where I was cared for on their dedicated COVID ward. At Ashgate, you can have visitors as every patient has their own private room which felt like such a luxury after being in hospital. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with Craig again.
“I was an inpatient on Ashgate’s ward for 28 days and I felt incredibly safe and cared for whilst I was there. It’s like staying in a hotel, everything you could want is catered for. The staff and volunteers are wonderfully caring and really listen to what you have to say. Every face is a friendly one with time taken to stop and have a chat with you.
“You can tell that the staff enjoy working there and that really shines through in the care they are delivering.”
On 9th April, with their four closest friends in attendance, the couple were married at Chesterfield’s register office. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds joined their four children, from their previous marriages, in the garden of the home they share in Langwith for a small celebration.
The bride said she and her new husband were on cloud nine.
Claire said: “The help and support from Ashgate Hospicecare has been phenomenal, we are grateful for their assistance in providing the beautiful flowers and lovely photographs. Along with our family and friends they helped make our day one to remember.”