Rocco's story

Nine year old Rocco gets his zest for life and love of birds and gardening from his mum Priscilla. Not only did they have a unique bond but they shared their love of nature from the day that Rocco learnt to walk and started to explore the world around him.

Rocco remembers everywhere he and his mummy went, the Natural History Museum, trips to the pond and park and having picnics of jam sandwiches and apple juice. But his favourite memory is when his baby brother Geno was born. He’s now three and they love exploring together.

Two years ago Priscilla was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer, appendiceal carcinoma. She had extensive treatment and chemotherapy which kept the cancer away for a while but it came back in April this year. Priscilla decided that she didn’t want any further treatment and chose to come to St Joseph’s for pain management.

She knew she wouldn’t go home again and had accepted this. She felt calm and serene at St Joseph’s and she managed to get into the beautiful garden and sit in the sun while Rocco explored his surroundings. It was a special time for them to be able to do this together.

While she was at St Joseph’s Priscilla and Mark, the father of her children, decided they wanted to get married. A marriage licence was hastily arranged and the ceremony was set for the Garden Room and the Chapel. The sisters and friends decorated the room with delicate tea lights in glass jars, fresh flowers and silver bunting. It looked beautiful.

Isabel takes up the story here.

“The morning of her wedding Priscilla carefully applied her make up and put on her favourite pineapple t-shirt, she wanted to look like herself. Despite her casual clothes, Priscilla looked like every other bride on their wedding day, just beautiful.

Despite the emotion of the day there were some funny moments. Priscilla loved to laugh so these moments only enhanced her day. With the typical energy of a 9 year old boy Rocco dashed into the room with his stuffed toy pigeon, something he takes everywhere as it’s the last thing his mum brought him.

The maintenance man appeared at the most crucial times of the ceremony, during the vows and blessings, and the Cuban chef from the hospice restaurant baked a wedding cake that morning, Cuban style. It was a very large sponge cake decorated with fruits and had a good measure of Cuban rum added into the mix. We’d never seen or tasted anything like it!

Everyone could see these funny and thoughtful moments but as you can imagine there were waves of utter sadness watching two people come together but knowing their time as man and wife would be very short lived. Priscilla died two days later aged just 46.

On the day of his mummy's funeral Rocco was determined to give back something to the hospice and he knew this is what his mummy would have wanted. At the local golf club where the wake was being held and with the help of his cousins 6 year old Ella, 4 year old Francesca and 14 year old Shauna they beautifully decorated a donation box and went round asking people to donate money to the hospice. Rocco had an idea to sell candles at £1 each which were sold out within minutes.

“The hard work paid off and in less than a few hours Rocco and his cousins managed to collect over £609.

The next day Rocco and I rushed over to St Joseph’s and found Nicola, Lourdes Ward Manager and presented her with the donation box. Nicola was really touched by the kindness, thoughtfulness and determination from a nine year old boy who has just lost his mummy.

When she asked him why he wanted to do this he said, "All the nurses here looked after my mummy so well and I want to help other children who may have a mummy or daddy in here."

Ward Manager Nicola said, “When Rocco used to come here to visit his mum he was usually quiet but when he came in to give us all the money he had collected he was full of excitement and keen to tell us how he had done it. It was lovely to see him so full of pride at his achievement.

“We care for so many people at St Joseph’s and every one of them is special to the nursing team who look after them. We’re so glad that we were there for Priscilla, Rocco and his family when they most needed our help and support.”

Rocco now plans to make sure his baby brother Geno plays a major part in helping him to support the work of the hospice and has set up a funding page with the help of his Aunty. They want to raise as much money as possible for the hospice to carry on the amazing and unique work so that others, like their mummy, will get the same care and support that she received in her final weeks of life.

If like Rocco you would like to support us you can make a donation here.

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