23rd September 2020

    John’s story

    Jane was born in December 1966 in Cornwall but spent most of her life in Woking. This beautiful and intelligent woman, much loved wife to me mother to Calum, Oliver and Maddy, sister to Mark and daughter to Bridget was also an incredibly caring midwife for St Peter's Hospital for the last 25 years.

    In September 2019 Jane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and after spending a few weeks in St Peter's Hospital we were fortunate to be able to transfer her to a room at Woking Hospice where a change in her care plan, relaxed visiting hours phenomenal care and a beautifully spacious room were made available to us.

    Although our plan was to continue caring for Jane at home this was not possible and after only three rounds of chemotherapy the cancer continued to grow with side effects causing a great deal of discomfort. Throughout this time the hospice made every effort to maker these treatments as bearable as possible.

    We spent Christmas in the hospice and this was a very special time for our family, her room ended up looking more like Santa's  Grotto than a clinical room. During this time we were also aware of the Light up a Life Services and we saw the in the café the Memory Tree filled with dedications. It reminded us that we were not alone.

    A few days later we celebrated Jane's birthday, a difficult time made special by the loving care so freely given by the staff and by January it was apparent that Jane would not be coming home, this was when we realised the reality of our situation.

    Prior to this we had considered renewing our marriage vows for our 30th wedding anniversary in 2022. We decided to bring this forward and on the 8th February at Woking URC, accompanied by friends and family, we celebrated this special occasion. Looking back the timing of this was perfect due to Jane's illness and the beginning of COVID 19. The hospice staff were fantastic and made every effort in assisting her. On 21st March, a bright Spring day Jane's fight ended and she passed peacefully away.

    Pancreatic cancer is a desperate disease and the pain Jane was in meant she needed much larger amounts of morphine. The side effects were further complicated as Jane was also an insulin dependant diabetic. The staff took everything in their stride not only giving individual care to Jane, but also to myself, children and family and we were fortunate to be able to visit any time of the day or night.

    After becoming more reliant on assistance which she wasn't good at asking for, we decided I should stay at the hospice with Jane and a bed was put in the room for me. Spending a little under 6 weeks with Jane allowed me to be with her as she quickly deteriorated. I have many fond memories of these weeks, getting to know staff really well and I cannot thank them enough for the care they gave Jane, the children and myself.

    With Jane's death happening at the start of COVID 19 pandemic the new strict government guidance and restrictions on funerals came into force. This meant we had an intimate funeral and plan at a later date to have a memorial service for Jane.

    Jane had so many work colleagues and friends who were unable to attend her funeral but many sent messages and videos of themselves taking a moment to be silent and also celebrating her life.

    We set up and personalised an Everlasting Tribute page through the Hospice's website. We found it to be a good way of connecting to all of the people Jane knew and everyone was able to leave messages plus make a donation in her memory.

    We also wanted to mark her memory by having a leaf engraved on the beautiful Tree of Life in the Retreat Garden. we have such a strong connection to the hospice, they not only cared for Jane but all of her friends and family.

    "It is a place full of life and light due to the dedication of the staff".

    Find out about Light up a Life services here.

     

    1st October 2018

    Malcolm & Jean’s story

    In January 2017 our happy, loving daughter Kathryn, aged 41, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She underwent many treatments in hospitals across Surrey to delay the disease and reduce her pain and we moved down from Perthshire to be with Kathryn in her home. But despite their best efforts the doctors eventually exhausted what they could do for her, and Kathryn was transferred to Woking Hospice in late August 2017, where she passed away peacefully on 15 September.

    Kathryn’s first experience of Woking Hospice was with the Clinical Nurse Specialists who came to her home. She made a particular connection with Sarah, who through the months that followed kept in contact and gave her support and advice that we as parents were not able to give.

    On the day she transferred from hospital to the hospice the change was immediate. Gone was the hectic, busy and noisy environment of the hospitals into the bright, friendly and calm environment of the hospice. From the moment she arrived we could see that Kathryn accepted where she was and despite the reason for being there she seemed instantly relaxed and settled. Her room was bright and airy and just didn’t look like a hospital room it was spacious well furnished and Jean was able to stay with Kathryn every night.

    We all benefitted from the family room and the café which was a refreshing change of scene. When Kathryn’s friends came there was usually a party atmosphere and her brother set up a film night showing a film she wanted to see in her room.

    There is an ethos that seems to be shared by everyone not just the medical staff about getting it right. The reception desk, housekeepers and ward nurses embraced all of us as if we were all family and that is how we felt about them.

    It is our plan as a family to attend the Light Up a Life event on 7 December to remember Kathryn, Jeans Mum who sadly passed away in December and her Sister Anne who passed away in February 2018. We attended Light Up a Life last year and felt we took great strength from it at a time we really needed it.

    You can find out about our Light Up a Life services here 

     

    Jan’s story

    Jan experienced our care first hand when her husband Malcolm received care at home and then as an inpatient at the hospice.

    During this time I was made to feel that I was not alone and what could have been a very isolating time for us both, as we dealt with Malcolm’s cancer, became bearable with amazing support.

    Virginia was our CNS (Community Nurse Specialist) and cared for Malcolm in our home. This contact was important to us in helping formulate a pain relief plan and ultimately getting Malcolm to agree to come to the hospice. At this point Virginia was on the case and a bed was made available the following day.

    Malcolm stayed at the hospice as an in-patient for three weeks under the care of the ward hospice staff. We were able to carry out his wish, of spending his final days in a quite unique and very special environment, with those nearest to him able to visit at any time of the day or night.

    With constant reassurance, I never once felt alone or in the dark. The exceptional care from the wonderful team who came in every day, checking up on both Malcolm and those visiting him, was so valued. Virginia was the singular unit that brought everything together, making sure our wellbeing and mental health, Malcolm’s pain levels and emotional needs were taken care of.

    Everyone, no matter what their role, offered instant support 24-hours a day, giving advice and reassurance every step of our journey, taking away the fear of the unknown. I know even now when I go to the hospice, the welcome is always warm and friendly, with time to talk. It is the all-embracing system that makes the reality of illness and death dignified.

    When you lose someone who is your whole life it’s important not to feel alone. The continuing support from a bereavement group and counselling has gone a long way in helping meto live without the love of my life. I owe so much to the hospice. I’m determined to make Malcolm proud as I carry on with piecing my life back together but I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without an amazing group of dedicated people who care so much.

     

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