A letter from David
Published: 21 Jun 2021
“Looking back, the overwhelming memory I have is of being surrounded by kindness.”
In 2019, my mum and dad died within a couple of months of each other, and both received expert, loving care at St Barnabas House.
My dad, Bill, had been living with advanced prostate cancer for a good while. But as the treatments stopped working and his condition advanced, it was clear he was approaching the end of his life. Dad talked to my mum, Joan, and our family about his wishes, and made it very clear he wanted to be at home. He did though agree to visit St Barnabas to see what they could do to relieve his symptoms and ease his pain. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.
Dad just loved being at the hospice. The medical care and knowledge he received were extraordinary, and the team soon found ways to help him feel better. The nurses were fantastic and made a huge fuss of dad. He became really close to them (and they to him also, I think).
It was coming up to dad’s 90th birthday and we celebrated at the hospice. All the nurses piled into his room and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ together. Dad had such a big smile on his face, and next day he came home to us, just as he’d wished.
Dad lived for 10 more weeks and the St Barnabas Hospice at Home team came out to him every day. The St Barnabas nurses lifted the weight from our shoulders and left us free just to be with dad. In those precious weeks we got to sit, talk and share favourite family stories. Most importantly, we had the chance to say what we wanted to dad, and him to us. When Dad died, the nurses were there and I sat next to him, holding his hand. It was a dignified, peaceful, even beautiful death.
A few days later – as we were planning Dad’s funeral in fact – mum had a fall at home. We thought it was just one of those things, as she’d always been well. However, Mum’s GP was worried and insisted she have some tests.
Mum had advanced liver and lung cancer, and she only had weeks to live. It was a huge shock for all of us and, once again, St Barnabas came to the rescue.
The hospice team bent over backwards to find mum a bed. In fact, they asked if she would like to have Room 17 – Dad’s old room.
Mum lived for only five weeks following her diagnosis, and she was cared for by the same wonderful nurses who’d come to know dad so well. They gave Mum all the dedication and compassion they’d shown him, which was hugely comforting.
St Barnabas has been there for families like David’s for so many years thanks to the support of people like you. To find out more about your local hospice, please visit: www.stbh.org.uk