Grieving husband donates £6000 to Marie Curie scheme

Neil Fitzsimmons is supporting a new Marie Curie fundraising initiative aimed at sponsoring a hospice for a day, which costs �6000. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Neil Fitzsimmons is supporting a new Marie Curie fundraising initiative aimed at sponsoring a hospice for a day, which costs �6000. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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A SLIGHT tingling in her fingers was the first sign for Lorna Fitzsimmons that something was not quite right.

The fit and healthy 54-year-old had been dropping things and struggling with her left arm so she decided to speak to her physiotherapist.

But after a swift referral to her GP, and a trip to the Western General, doctors gave her the unthinkable news that she had a brain tumour.

This was the start of a six-month battle with a grade 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive tumour which claimed Lorna’s life in January at the Marie Curie hospice.

To show his gratitude for the exceptional care she received at the Fairmilehead hospice, husband Neil has become the first donor to Marie Curie’s new Pay for a Day scheme, giving more than £6000 – the cost of running the hospice for one day.

Neil, who was married to Lorna for 28 years, said: “It was a bit of a shock. I was in London and I remember so clearly that I got the call from her sister Lesley saying Lorna had had her scan.

“The doctors said it was not a stroke, as they had thought, but a brain tumour.”

Lorna, who worked as a pharmacist, embarked on a gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy regime to battle the tumour but doctors told her she might only have 14 months left to live.

Walking became difficult and she used a stick before eventually using a wheelchair full time.

By Christmas it was clear that Lorna needed full-time care and she was taken from their home near the Meadows to the Western on Boxing Day, before she was transferred to the hospice in early January.

Neil, a housebuilder, said: “You don’t just lose your wife, you lose your best friend.

“She just kept going through it all, she was so fantastic. She was always so positive and I think she did that for me.

“I think that somehow she knew from very early on that things weren’t good but she kept going for me.”

Since her death, Neil has taken comfort in support from friends and family, with more than 200 people attending Lorna’s funeral at Mortonhall Crematorium.

He said: “That was a great comfort to me. I always knew she was special but it is nice to see how many others did too.”

Neil said the family could not praise Marie Curie enough for the care given to Lorna before her death on January 17.

The 56-year-old said: “It’s so peaceful there. I can’t speak highly enough of the nurses there. The way the look after the patient but also the people around the patient is amazing.”

He has chosen to pay for Marie Curie’s work on March 29 for the next two years – to mark the anniversary of his wedding to Lorna. “Other families must have the chance to receive the support we did during such difficult circumstances,” he said.

Fiona Bushby, Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh fundraising manager, said: “By picking a day special to you, you’ll be making a real difference to people living with a terminal illness and their families.”

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