Matt and his family were only just coming to terms with the death of their mum, Joanna, when Michael died just over a week after his cancer diagnosis in May 2020.
His final marathon, on Saturday 11 December, started and ended here at the hospice.
Matt said: “Mum had early onset vascular dementia and dad had been her carer for many years. She died in January 2020, just before Covid hit.
“Dad had been complaining of pains which we were all worried about. But by the time he was diagnosed, his cancer was terminal.
“Everything happened very fast. When dad found out he didn’t have long left, he was very insistent that he wanted to spend his last few days at home and for us to look after him.
“The whole family pulled together. But it became evident, very quickly, that it wasn’t going to be simple looking after him at home.”
When a loved one is ill, as a family you think that you can take on everything, but you just can’t. It’s physical and emotional, and it’s somebody that you love, which makes it a lot harder.
We couldn’t have managed without them
“My sister Sarah is a nurse and she moved in with dad when he was poorly but there were times when she needed to rest, too. Dad needed care overnight and pain relief, too; the Treetops nurses provided that, which we really appreciated.
“When the nurses saw how quickly dad was going downhill, we had them every night. We couldn’t have managed without them.
“They were so compassionate, professional and knowledgeable, and very conscious of being in someone else’s home and being respectful. It was so important and meant we could trust their night-time care, get some rest and be there with dad at the end.”
Michael died just five days after coming home, aged 73.
Raise vital funds
Matt is a keen runner and says that, during a difficult year, getting out in the fresh air helped to keep his mental health in check.
“Charities have suffered financially during the pandemic and this challenge, completing a marathon every month for 12 months, helps to raise vital funds for Treetops Hospice - and it helps me mentally, too.”
“My final marathon will be an emotional run,” said Matt, “but I will have lots of family and friends there to support me.
Treetops helped me and my family when we needed it the most. It’s only when you need these services that you realise how vital they are. This is my way of giving back.