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John’s story

Shared by John’s wife, Jean.

My lovely husband John and I were together for 53 years and married for 51 of those years. He was my life – we had a wonderful marriage and two beautiful children.

John was very muddled for a while, but we thought it was just because he was getting older, and you tend to forget things. To be on the safe side, we got him checked out by his doctor, who gave him a memory test and sent him for further tests at the local mental health unit – they thought it could be depression so treated him for that. They ran further tests and did a brain scan, which came back clear.

Our world stopped when just before Christmas 2019 we received a phone call – they had found something on the brain scan. We rushed John straight up to the John Radcliffe Hospital for more tests and they said he could go home while we waited for the results.

That weekend we could think of nothing else. Monday came and my children and I took John to the Churchill Hospital, where a doctor confirmed that John had a brain tumour that they could not operate on. It was growing too quickly and viciously. Devastatingly, John would only have a few months left to live.

My children and I then suffered a heart-breaking six months of watching John change from a loving, kind, and caring husband and dad to someone we didn’t know. He became so distant and unable to show us any love or affection – every day was a nightmare for him and for us. We were completely lost and didn’t know where to turn.

Pictured: John and Jean
Pictured: our hospice ward
Pictured: John and Jean

My son lived in France but decided to move home to help me care for John, and my daughter was a huge support too. March 2020 came and the country was at the height of the pandemic and in complete lockdown. This meant John couldn’t have any friends in to see him and lift his spirits.

Luckily, we had Sobell House’s help, and our community nurse Lisa became our friend and a huge support to us all. She helped us through the worst time of our lives.

Lisa was a lovely person and so good with John. Where the tumour was affecting John’s speech and mobility, sometimes people would talk down to him, but she wouldn’t. She was so respectful and would even sit on the floor to chat to him so they could be eye-to-eye. I know John liked Lisa – he would always smile when she came through the door.

I found all of the information and news about John’s illness so overwhelming and frightening, but Lisa helped us to digest what was going on and told us everything we needed to know. She helped us with John’s medication and said we could always call her if we needed her.

John suddenly became very unwell and in lots of pain. The doctor visited us at home and suggested that John went into Sobell House for end-of-life care. I agreed – I just wanted him to be pain-free and have medication on hand to help him.

John spent the night at Sobell House on his own because of coronavirus restrictions. I thought this meant only I would be able to see him the next morning, but the nurse kindly told me that restrictions had slightly eased and my daughter could say goodbye to her dad and support me.

I found comfort at Sobell House from the kind nurses – they gave us lots of tea and the doctor was so lovely to us too. When John retired, he drove patient care ambulances and the doctor thanked him for what he’d done. We were with John until the very end when he closed his beautiful eyes forever.

After John died life was a blur, but I had some counselling over the phone from the Sobell House bereavement team for six weeks which I was grateful for.

Thank you to Sobell House for helping us to take care of our beloved John.

Thank you so much to Jean for kindly sharing her family’s experience of Sobell House.

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