Why I'm fundraising in memory of my wife, Clare

Adam and Clare takes a selfie. They are both smiling at the camera

Adam Doran, his family and friends, have so far raised an incredible £17,000 in memory of his wife, Clare. Adam and Clare have two children – Sam, aged 21, and Hannah, 18.

In his blog, Adam tells us all about his fundraising efforts, and why he chose to raise money in memory of Clare. 

Clare was beautiful, inside and out. She had a smile and a personality that lit up any room and made friends wherever she went. She made people smile and laugh through her warmth and gorgeous personality. She lived her life for fun and enjoyment and was always the life and soul of the party. Her favourite place was Ibiza where she could laugh, dance, party and be happy!

She was the most wonderful wife and mother, and if you had her as a friend, she was the best friend you could ever have. She was sassy, she was feisty, she was strong-willed and determined in everything she did.

She was the ultimate ‘fixer’. If anyone had a problem, she was there to help, always willing to be that listening ear and coming up with the solution, however much of a problem it was!

Clare was an amazing teacher and was described as “One of the most talented, passionate and inspirational professionals and touched the lives of so many children and staff. Clare had the ‘wow factor’ in every way and she truly made a difference.”

Adam and Clare Doran feature image

Adam and Clare Doran

In April 2020 Clare underwent surgery to remove a growth which we thought was fibroids. They discovered cancer in multiple places which was not what we expected and was a total shock. This all happened at the start of the pandemic and I was not able to visit Clare in hospital whilst she was recovering and trying to come to terms with the bombshell of her diagnosis.

We were told that all of the cancer they found was secondary cancer and they needed to do determine where the primary was. Histology indicated that it was in the bowel area but, after several tests, investigations and procedures, they could not find it and we were handed over to the Cancer of Unknown Primaries team, and were looked after by the amazing Dr Rao.

In May 2020 Clare started chemotherapy whilst still recovering from her surgery. After an encouraging start from the chemo, the cancer markers didn’t improve, and after enduring about six rounds of chemo, she started on a new course that was targeted at a different area. This seemed to work and we were making good progress, with the cancer markers all going in the right direction.

Unfortunately this didn’t last long as Clare started with bowel blockages that were incredibly painful and resulted in her being on a liquid / soft diet for weeks. This was so hard for her and really impacted her quality of life. Whilst all of this was going on, it was decided that the best course of action would be for Clare to undergo Ultra Radical Surgery to remove all the diseased areas.

This took place in May 2021 and Clare was in surgery for around eight hours. Unfortunately, they couldn’t remove everything they wanted and the surgeon described it as ’sub-optimal’. Clare’s recovery was impacted by more bowel blockages which meant she was at home for only a few days before going back into hospital.

She ended up in Fraser Ward in June 2021, and stayed there for 100 days. During that time, Clare did what she did best and that was making friends with all the amazing nurses who were caring for her.

I visited her every day and saw that they were not only treating her but giving her care, compassion and kindness, way above what you would expect or could ever hope for. I will be forever thankful for the way those nurses looked after Clare and helped her through her darkest times.

At that stage we were still on ‘Plan A’ which was fighting the cancer with chemo. As time went on, it became clear that this was not working and the Palliative Care team became more involved. Clare’s wish was to be at home and spend what time she had left with her family and loved ones. They made this possible which we will be eternally grateful for.

The first couple of weeks at home were all about getting Clare settled and working to get the meds right so she was as pain free as possible. During that time she was able to have visitors and had precious time with her family and closest friends, which meant the world to her.

Just as we thought we were getting on top of things with the meds, Clare had a really rough night and it seemed like she had been hit with an infection. Clare was rushed into hospital and it became clear that, even with antibiotics, the infection could not be treated. Our Palliative Care Nurse came to see us and arranged for Clare to be transferred to Hayward House.

I will always remember our time at Hayward House and was astounded by the care we received. They told me I could spend the night with Clare and I looked at the armchair in the corner of her bay thinking that’s where they’d put me. How wrong I was!

Not only did they make me up a bed, they pushed it together with Clare’s so we could spend one more night together. I cannot tell you how much that meant. Having not been in a bed and lying next to the person you love for three months made this so special. The nurses during the night were so good and made Clare comfortable.

Clare and Hannah are posing together in a photo. They have their hands in the air and are smiling at the camera

Clare and daughter Hannah

The next day, the 10th September, Clare’s breathing was becoming shallower and they told me that all our family should come in and say goodbye. During this time the nurse gave a beautiful little teddy bear to Clare and two more to me, one for each of our children, and explained that the bear will stay with Clare forever and the bear the children had was a way of talking, connecting and reaching their Mum whenever they want to. It was so beautiful.

The way she explained it really resonated with me and I said to her, half-jokingly, “where’s mine?” A couple of minutes later I was handed the last teddy bear they had available and I talk to Clare through this bear every day.

Whilst I am so glad I received my bear, I thought if this was the last one, what would happen when the next family came in? It was then I decided that I’d like to help if I could by covering the cost of the bears for a year to make sure they never ran out. The only thing I asked in return was that they were renamed ‘Clare’s Bears’!

That was my first engagement with Nottingham Hospitals Charity, and started the journey we are on now.

We had already set up a JustGiving page for Clare and right from the start I wanted the money we raised to go to Fraser Ward and Hayward House. I just thought if we could give something back in any small way, it would be a nice way to show how much we appreciated everything they did for Clare and us as a family.

Little did I know that we would raise over £10,000 from this! It was lovely to see how many people out there knew and loved Clare and were so generous in what they gave.

We were always planning to have a big ‘Celebration of Life’ party and it seemed to make sense to also tie that in with the Charity. One thing Clare loved whilst she was in hospital was a visit from one of the lovely Complementary Therapists who gave her the most amazing foot massages! It was such a respite for Clare and a break from the day to day grind of an extended stay in hospital.

I was blown away when one of the therapists heard that Clare was in Hayward House and came to give her one last foot massage! She would have loved that.

We decided that we should do a raffle on the night and see if we could fund a Complementary Therapist for a year. We were donated some amazing prizes through Clare’s network of friends which included around £2,000 worth of beauty treatments and products and a holiday to Ibiza! We made over £5,000 from the raffle which was truly outstanding.

In true Clare style, we had some fun with all of this and printed T-Shirts and towels for the event to sell. We made £1,360 from this, and as we’d covered the cost of the Complementary Therapist from what we’d already raised, I decided we should donate the money to the Stoma Care team. Sarah Mcnamee and her team will always have a special place in my heart. They helped Clare get over her biggest fear and the one thing she really didn’t want and found so hard to come to terms with.

A picture of Clare tribute t-shirt

Clare's Celebration of Life

From all the sadness and raw emotion has risen this huge positivity and support from people who want to do something and want to make a difference. One of Clare’s teaching friends, Wendy, is organising a climb up Mount Snowdon in June, which over 30 people have signed up to.

One of Clare’s oldest friends, Vance Warner, who is an ex-Forest player, is doing a ‘1 Million Steps’ challenge in the month of March for Clare and the Charity, which involves walking around 19 miles every day to get in the necessary 33,000 steps! The walk starts on 1st March from Fraser Ward back to Clare’s home in East Stoke. The final walk on 31st March will be from East Stoke back to Hayward House. These walks are very poignant for the obvious reasons.

On 23rd April, Sam, our son, will be taking part in the Charity Skydive at Langar Airfield and will be raising money for the Bereavement team. Not only did we receive our bears but we were also given the most beautiful memory boxes, a pouch with a lock of Clare’s hair in and her hand print. None of this was expected and meant so much to us all. If we can help other families have these special moments in their darkest of times, it would mean such a lot.

Clare and Sam pose for a photo. Sam has his arm around Clare and they are both smiling at the camera

Clare and her son, Sam

Other events planned include an open water swim, a Norfolk coastal walk and a half marathon in Ibiza (where else?!) - and that’s even before we’ve started planning anything for the anniversary event!

On the day she died, nurses from the Stoma Care team and from Fraser Ward took time out of their hectic day to visit her in Hayward House. I’m not sure how many patients that happens to but it always struck me that this was a gesture that went above and beyond their normal duties. To date we have raised over £17,000 which is incredible but only a tiny amount when you compare it with acts of kindness like that.

Clare and Adam are dressed up in nice outfits. They look like they are out for dinner and Clare has her hand on Adams waist and has a big smile on her face.

Clare and Adam

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