20th November 2019

    Sophie’s story

    Mel was only 52 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017 and the following year she came under the care of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices. Her daughter Sophie shares her family’s story.

    “Our first point of contact with the hospice was when Sarah, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, got in touch. A work colleague’s daughter was friends with Sarah, so it was nice to have that personal connection.
    In March mum was admitted to hospital. We really wanted her into the hospice but there was a waiting list. Every day Sarah would call us to let us know that mum had been discussed in their daily meeting and that she would be able to go to the hospice as soon as bed became available. It was lovely to have Sarah, who would liaise with us and deal with the nitty gritty. It took the pressure away from our family so we could focus on having personal quality time instead of worrying about the clinical side.

    When Mum was transferred to the hospice in May, Sarah also did some night shifts and cared for her there. All the staff were amazing and would bend over backwards for you. We could stay with mum for as long as we wanted, and they moved an extra bed into her room we could stay with her every night. We’re a big family so there was always lots of people around and Paul my nephew also had a sleep over at Nanny’s. My brother who works in London could come after work and didn’t need to worry about visiting hours.

    Mum was in the hospice for several months so we became part of the furniture and everyone knew us, which was nice. Everyone down to the cleaners and kitchen staff took their time to talk to talk to us, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

    We managed to celebrate mum’s birthday and had a big party in the Wellbeing Centre. Mum loved roast lamb, so her sister, who lives nearby, cooked a roast lamb dinner and brought it in, and I made cakes for everyone, including the nurses. Even family members who hadn’t seen mum for a while came and it was such a special celebration.

    Early July mum plateaued and was discharged into a nursing home. Although Sarah came to visit her, the care just wasn’t the same and she got worse, so it was a sigh of relief when she came back to the hospice. She even had her room back, which was great as mum didn’t deal with change well due to her brain tumor. It was like coming home, and the hospice took all the negativity away from the situation. We had pictures up, flowers, mum’s diffuser and we would watch the sing-along version of Mama Mia which mum loved. We got a special wheelchair so I could take mum to the local shops and for walks around the lake. Even when she was too poorly to go out, we could wheel the bed out onto the balcony and she was just so happy being outside under the blue sky and surrounded by trees. Everything was made to feel homely and it was never a ‘this is what we do’ but always the question ‘what would you like’.

    Four weeks later Mum passed away on Paul’s birthday. She was hanging on because she always wanted to share everything with him, and by dying that day it was almost as if she didn’t want it to be a negative occasion. She wouldn’t have been well enough to join us for cake, so it was like she celebrated with us from above.

    Everyone I talk to thinks that the hospice is funded by the Government, so now I tell them that we need to fundraise, so the care we all take for granted can be available for free to everyone who needs it. As a family we’ve been fundraising for the hospice since our Nan died there in 2001 and we are currently trying to raise enough money to have mum’s room named after her. If people before us did not fundraise, mum wouldn’t have been able to be looked after here, so it’s really important that we all support the hospice.”

    Find out how you can support the hospice here.

    8th May 2018

    Zara’s story

    It’s hard to lose a parent at any age, but it’s particularly tough for those in their teens and early twenties. I had only just celebrated my 21st birthday when my mother Joanna was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Nine months later she passed away at Woking Hospice, aged 53.

    As the only daughter I took it upon myself to step into her shoes and care for my family, but behind closed doors I was falling apart, and ignoring my grief and putting on a brave face meant I fell into a downward spiral of depression.

    Nearly six years later, I am now a much stronger person and have learned a lot about myself. Her passing has also inspired me to do things I never otherwise would have done such as quitting my UK job, travelling the world and moving to Australia.

    Mum was in and out of Woking Hospice, as well as cared for at home, up until her death in 2012. She used to describe the staff as ‘angels’. They felt like friends to her and I remember her sharing lots of laughs with them. At one point she even strutted down the hospice corridor showing the staff her new outfit and shoes for a party she was going to the following weekend! They made her stay so comfortable and instead of feeling like a hospital mum felt like she was just in a second ‘home away from home’.

    Soon after mum died my brother Damian had wristbands made to raise funds for the hospice, and my brother Adam did a silent fundraiser at work. My best friend Olivia also ran the London Marathon in 2016, with all proceeds going to the hospice.

    I am now based in Sydney where I work as an entertainment journalist and recently wrote an article for Cosmopolitan, Australia, about losing mum. I hope it will help others, especially youngsters, who have to face the loss of a parent.

    I have started to adopt mum’s zest for life by saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, and it’s during those indescribable moments where I can feel her energy the most. It is still tough and unbearable at times, but I am grateful to have had those 21 amazing years with her than none at all.

    Read Zara’s article about ‘Mothers day without mum’ published in Cosmopolitan, Australia, May 2018

    7th November 2017

    Emma’s story

    As someone who has had a loved one cared for by Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, and who has had first-hand-experience of the hospice’s support for myself and my five-year-old son Max and what a hugely worthwhile charity it is.

    I lost my Mum after her brave battle with Motor Neurone Disease. I would have been lost without the support of such a wonderful team of specialists at the hospice. After Mum passed, I benefited from the hospice’s bereavement services and as part of my healing process I wanted to be able to do something to give back. But it was actually Mum who inspired me to do the London Marathon as she left me £1,000 in sponsorship money as an incentive in her will.

    As part of my training I did a number of other challenge runs, including the hospice’s annual Midnight Walk. The experience of taking part in all these events motivated me to keep going towards my goal of completing the gruelling 26 mile London Marathon, which I am proud to say I did in under six hours. It will go down as one of the best days in my life, as well as one of the hardest. But having Max there to cheer me on as I crossed the finish line – I cannot express what a special moment that was.

    The standard of care, empathy, respect and compassion the hospice showed towards Mum was fabulous and everyone who needs this sort of specialist care should be able to access it. Your help and support will therefore make a huge difference to many families just like mine


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