23rd November 2019

Eileen’s story

The hospice is just a wonderful place; a place where we all felt welcomed and supported. My husband Robert passed away in December 2018, and the care we all received from the lovely nurses was such a comfort. They were so easy to talk to and nothing was too much trouble.

All the staff and volunteers were so friendly and helpful. They really looked after our whole family – and still do, with counselling support even now.

Robert was diagnosed with cancer in August 2011. He had seven weeks of radiation therapy followed by three years of hormone therapy. To  be honest, I thought he would just carry on forever, living with the disease but still enjoying life.

In September 2017 we had a wonderful trip to Tenerife to mark our golden wedding anniversary, but he had a sore hip while we were away. A few months later a bone scan confirmed the cancer had spread to his hip and that was when we first came into contact with the hospice, in January 2018.

He received physio at home and in the hospice, and also had visits at home from the community nursing team. We both enjoyed some massage therapy which really helped us both to relax, and we bonded with the brilliant staff who helped us.

During 2018 he was in and out of hospital many times. He had been struggling with his medication, which caused hallucinations, and the chemotherapy session were regularly followed by an infection, which meant equally regular trips into hospital. The cancer had affected his bone density so fractures developed in his back and neck. He suffered a stroke and also had operations on his kidneys, bowel and bladder.

When he was admitted to the hospice for the final time on 19 November 2018 I initially thought it would just be for a week’s stay, as he did go through periods when his health and mobility improved. It was a terrible shock when we were told he had to remain as an in-patient as he was nearing the end of his life; I found it very hard to take in.

Again the hospice team couldn’t do enough for us, with one of the doctors very kindly taking the time to talk to my son Craig in Saudi using facetime to explain ‘face to face’ what the situation was for his dad. This made it much easier for him to take in the news as he could see her expressions in a way that a phone call wouldn’t have allowed.

My daughter Carol and I stayed in the hospice with Robert in his room for the last six nights of his life and it really was a ‘home from home’ for us. To be able to stay there as long as we wanted – day and night –  without restrictions around visiting hours, and to have the wonderful café in the building really helped us. Being near Goldsworth Park Lake meant that we could easily have some fresh air and take a walk in some lovely scenery, which could be a real relief on a tough day.

Our granddaughter Iola who was then 5, loved to run around to the family room and pick out a board game to play with her granddad, and she would then climb up onto the bed to sit with him while we played. Our teenage granddaughter Emily and 10year old grandson Henry felt equally at home especially being able to sit with their granddad in his own private room and watch television together.

On Boxing Day – 2 days before he died – Robert asked the nurses to call all the family in at 1am. We all sat up all night, talking and laughing, and that is a such a special memory for all of us; Robert had a very dry sense of humour!

I find it so sad that the government only gives such a small amount of funding to the hospice. Hospices are so important. That’s why my daughter Hazel, son-in-law Russ, Iola and I will be donning our Santa suits in memory of Robert this year. Last year my son and I watched my daughter-in-law Paula take part in the Santa Fun Run and she visited Robert at the hospice afterwards in her Santa outfit, which he thought was wonderful!

I’m not a runner so my aim is to walk and run alternative laps. My son Craig will be in Saudi so he is going to run on the treadmill there while we are participating in the Santa Fun Run here. We want to show that anyone can take part to raise funds for the hospice and have fun, which is exactly what Robert would have done himself.

Sign up to the Santa Fun Run on 1 December in Woking or 8 December in Walton-on-Thames.

Find out other ways you can support local hospice care here.