Stage four cancer sufferer who died from sepsis on cruise was determined to go on holiday

Lucille Thorne died of sepsis during a cruise in the Indian  Ocean
Lucille Thorne died of sepsis during a cruise in the Indian Ocean - Solent News & Photo Agency

A stage four cancer sufferer died from sepsis on a cruise ship after being “determined” to go on holiday, an inquest has heard.

Lucille Madge Thorne, 68, embarked on the trip of a lifetime with Anne Thomas, her childhood friend, which began with a flight to Malé in the Maldives.

From there, the pair flew to Dubai and began the cruise part of their holiday aboard the Azamara Quest Ship.

However, a fall sustained on her first full day in the Maldives resulted in her contracting sepsis and dying less than a fortnight later.

Mrs Thorne, from Hayling Island, Hampshire, had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer before she boarded a flight from Gatwick airport on November 18, 2022.

Giving evidence at Portsmouth Coroners’ Court on Tuesday, Mrs Thomas said: “She really wanted to go on holiday and she had done all the research.”

Anne Thomas outside Portsmouth Coroners Court, Hampshire
Lucille Thorne's childhood friend Anne Thomas outside Portsmouth Coroners Court, Hampshire - Andrew Croft/Solent News & Photo Agency

And one family member said that when they raised concerns about her going away while fighting cancer, Mrs Thorne had said: “Nothing is going to stop me going on holiday”.

However on November 20, the friends’ first full day in the Maldives, Mrs Thorne fell.

“We had been out sunning and we went in to make some coffee and it was when we were doing that, Lucy slipped on the floor,” Mrs Thomas said.

“Her feet went out from underneath her, it was her right side that she had fallen on.

“She didn’t want me to phone reception and get the doctor but because of her situation I thought it was best to.”

The inquest heard how a nurse and doctor had attended to Mrs Thorne and prescribed her antibiotics.

However, the holidaymaker’s knee began to look “very red and raw” before blisters began to form “down to the ankle”, according to Mrs Thomas.

After bursting the blisters, the nurse prescribed Mrs Thorne antiseptic cream to rub on her knee.

The pair flew to Dubai days later and stayed in a hotel for a night before boarding the Azamara Quest Ship.

Azamara Quest Ship at sea
The two friends set sail aboard Azamara Quest Ship - Azamara Cruises

On its website, Azamara Cruises promises “everything modern voyagers are looking for”.

Customers can pay up to £6,000 to enjoy a holiday with the cruise company.

Mrs Thomas said: “She had been on an Azamara cruise before so — from what I gather — she enjoyed that so I think the cruise was probably something she was looking forward to.”

However, while they were on the cruise, Mrs Thorne started to walk slower.

Mrs Thomas said: “Every day we were away I was worried about her.

“I knew what I was taking on but I was worried.

“Firstly, it was in relation to the knee with the blisters then really, how much she slowed down when we got to the ship.”

Pretty amazing person

She added: “She never complained. When I say she was courageous... I would say ‘Are you okay?’, and she would say ‘Yes, yes, I am fine’.

“She never complained about anything to do with her health at all. [She was] very, very stoic, a courageous lady.”

The inquest heard how the friends spent the next four days reading, listening to music and sunbathing on the liner’s deck.

Yet on the morning of December 3, when the vessel was off the coast of India, Mrs Thomas woke up to find Mrs Thorne unresponsive.

“I got up to go to the toilet and I touched her and she was cold and I went straight to the phone and rang 911,” she said.

After emergency services attended, Mrs Thorne was pronounced dead at around 4:30am.

The Maldives where the two friends went away
The Maldives where the two friends went away

The cruise ship had been heading towards Singapore at the time of her death, but pulled into Colombo, Sri Lanka, after the holiday maker died.

Assistant coroner for Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton Henry Charles, ruled the death accidental and brought on by the fall which caused sepsis.

He told the inquest, which was attended by her family and friends, that Mrs Thorne was “not a frail” lady but had suffered from poor health.

However, the assistant coroner said there was a “clear level of deterioration” after Mrs Thorne fell on November 20.

Mr Charles described Mrs Thorne as a “pretty amazing person” who was “determined” to go out and enjoy the holiday with her friend.

He noted how the two women boarded the ship while Mrs Thorne’s “knee was still weeping” and the pair were able to “spend a relaxing four days outside on the sun deck”.