“It was August 2014 when my wife, Lesley, had the results of yet another scan that showed further progression of her secondary cancer and we realised she was running out of treatment options. Lesley was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 aged 43
I worked in the NHS, as a mental health nurse, for 30 years until I took early retirement to support and care for Lesley all the time. I felt it had become an impossible situation to try and continue working and look after Lesley at the same time, as it left me feeling that I wasn’t doing my job properly or looking after Lesley properly – and I had no doubts she was my priority.
Angela was diagnosed 5 years ago with Breast Cancer aged just 37. Despite all the challenges her cancer presented, Angela never stopped ‘waving the flag’ for HospiceCare and became one of our most prolific fundraisers. Angela said on more than one occasion , that if she could use her cancer to get people’s attention to raise as much money as she could, then that’s what she would do – right up until her death, she was planning ways of raising more funds for HospiceCare.
“On Valentine’s Day last year Val pencilled a circle around her husband’s photograph with the words “Alyn, I draw a circle, not a heart around you because a heart can break, but a circle goes on forever.” Here’s her story…
“Alyn and I moved to Longframlington in December 2012 after living in Stafford for 22 years. We were both originally from Northumberland and wanted to retire here to be closer to our family. In September 2014 Alyn was diagnosed with a Melanoma (skin cancer) on his left leg. This came as a huge shock to both of us as he had always been so fit and healthy. The following month Alyn had an operation to remove the skin cancer. We both knew about the work of HospiceCare from a copy of their magazine delivered through our letterbox. I had also heard about the work of the hospice from a Talk Sue Gilbertson, Clinical Manager, delivered to our Women’s Guild group in the village, not knowing at the time we would eventually need to use their services.
Alyn’s surgery resulted in a Lymphoedema swelling which was incredibly uncomfortable. At first he was reluctant to ask the hospice to get involved, but as soon as we made the call, we knew we had done the right thing. Debbie Allan, one of the nurses, started to come to the house to give specialist treatment to reduce the swelling in Alyn’s leg. The treatment offered by Debbie made such a difference because it finally made him feel much more comfortable. Debbie also taught me how to massage the swelling so that I could support Alyn in between her visits.
Alyn’s condition deteriorated very quickly and we knew he wasn’t going to get better. It was at this point that Alyn started clearing out all the stuff we no longer needed, made sure our Will was up to date and together, we planned Alyn’s funeral. It was at this stage of Alyn’s illness that I felt I didn’t want to leave him in the house alone. Debbie suggested having one of the HospiceCare Companions to sit with Alyn, which just happened to be David from our village. Alyn looked forward to David’s visits, which also allowed me to learn how to switch off when I left the house and switch back on again when I returned home.
We did talk about having Hospice at Home, but Alyn said he didn’t want to die at home because it wouldn’t leave good memories for me. Instead Alyn chose to die in the Rothbury Cottage Hospital where Debbie continued to visit us. It was very peaceful when Alyn died on 6th April 2015. The sun was rising and I was by his side with our daughter, Laura. Driving back from the hospital that morning we both noticed that the lake was so still and beautiful, the sun was shining and it was at this very moment we both felt that Alyn was finally at peace. So many positive things have come from this, HospiceCare has been like a ‘comfort blanket’ for both of us because of the fantastic way they can make people feel, for as long as they need it – even when you don’t think you need it!”
If you have been inspired and would like to take on a challenge whether it is a walk, run, Zipslide or
one of your own ideas, to raise funds for HospiceCare then please do get in touch with Emma Arthur