'˜I can never thank the Rowans staff enough for what they did'
Roger '˜Biff' Pearce took part in the Great South Run in memory of his beautiful wife Sarah and to raise money for Rowans Hospice. He wanted to make sure anyone in the local community facing a similar experience would have access to the support he and Sarah found so vital. This is also why he wants to share their story.
In March, 2010, I met my wife Sarah. I noticed her as she was beautiful, bright and always smiling. '˜I would do my Joey out of Friends' '˜How you doin'?' impression, which would bring a bigger smile to her face.
'˜Our first date was on April 12, 2010, at the Rusty Cutter in Bedhampton and our first kiss was the same night. We talked until the early hours and I didn't want it to end.
'˜The second date was a film and McDonald's. I still have the toy Sarah got with her Happy Meal.
'˜Sarah changed my life for the better, she made me the man I am today and filled my heart with love and joy. It was the start of a lifelong love letter.
'˜I finally found the courage to ask her to be my wife on October 12, 2014, whilst on holiday in Cyprus visiting the Baths of Aphrodite. She said: '˜Yes, you fool.'
'˜I was complete and so, so happy. We married on October 28, 2016 at Christ Church, Portsdown.
'˜It was an amazing day, she looked so beautiful and so happy.
'˜I cried with love and disbelief that she was going to be my wife.
'˜The best part was I became hers and she became mine. More than that, I became the other half of her. But now I am just half.
'˜On March 23 this year Sarah was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The bottom fell out of my world.
'˜I would be strong for Sarah, but when I was alone I would just cry.
'˜I remember her expression when we received the news. She was so brave, accepting the fate that awaited her.
'˜After a week at the QA Hospital and a little time at home, Sarah was admitted into the Rowans.
'˜Five days later she lost her battle and passed away on April 11, 2018, a day before we should have been celebrating eight years together.
'˜The short time we were at the Rowans was a pure blessing.
'˜They allowed Sarah to maintain her dignity, to have control, her freedom and, most of all, to have her family close.
'˜The care and compassion the Rowans showed was above and beyond my expectations.
'˜Sarah was kept comfortable and I will always remember the last night before the cancer took control and Sarah was heavily sedated.
'˜The only intimacy we managed when my darling Sarah became ill was the honour I had of showering her.
'˜But most of all she wanted a bath and, with the pain she was in, it was impossible during her time at home.
'˜The staff at the Rowans went out of their way to enable Sarah and I to have one more bath.
'˜She laid in the water pain-free and I could lovingly wash her and tend to her hair.
'˜It is a memory, a gift that the Rowans gave us and one that I will remember for the rest of my life and to the day I join my Sarah.
'˜I cannot and never will be able to thank the Rowans enough.
'˜The last night I had with Sarah, I just held her until the end.
'˜If such a thing could be beautiful, the Rowans made it so.
'˜This is the reason I decided to do the Great South Run, in memory of the woman who made me who I am.
'˜My beautiful wife and the most amazing mother to Dan, Jed, Emma and Kirsten, the best grandma to Billy, Daisy, Amy, Jackson, Charlotte and Eli.
'˜And I ran for the Rowans, as I want others to have the same experience as we did during the darkest and emotional times.'