Pat and Nicola's hospice story Dad discovered he had mantle cell lymphoma eleven and a half years ago. He stated, categorically, that it would not beat him. “One thing that was important to him was fundraising for St Julia’s Hospice, where Mum was a volunteer.” Dad was 75 and fit and healthy. He was still gardening and taking long walks letterboxing on Dartmoor. His family, especially his seven grandchildren, were of paramount importance to him. It was a shock to everyone when we heard of Dad’s diagnosis. But in his usual stoic way, Dad took it in his stride. He carried on with all his activities. One thing that was important to him was fundraising for St Julia’s Hospice, where Mum was a volunteer. He did several abseils down various cliffs and buildings…the higher, the better as far as he was concerned. The last fundraising he did was at Lusty Glaze and I remember he was cross as he hadn’t been accepted to do the cliff obstacle course. After telling someone that’s what he wanted to do, they found him a slot. He amazed everyone…At the ripe old age of 84, he did the course in two and a half minutes, far quicker than young men half his age. Sadly, this was the last fundraising he was able to do. “The care he got and the love and care we received as a family was incredible” Dad went for check-ups every 3/4 months with the Consultant at Treliske. When asked how he felt, his reply was always the same…”Very well thank you Doctor.” If any treatment was suggested he would say.. ”If you think that’s best Doctor, that’s fine by me.” At that time, our only experience of a hospice was when Dad’s mum died at Mount Edgecumbe. Mum’s sister had cancer and Heather went to St Julia’s. It was a lovely peaceful place. “When I walked into St Julia’s on the first evening, I felt at peace.” A couple of years ago, Dad went for his usual check-up and the Consultant wanted him to have a course of chemotherapy as the lymphoma had spread. Dad agreed. It made him feel so tired but he still cooked tea, did the garden and carried on with all his jobs. He never complained or moaned about his condition or the fact that the chemo made him feel ill. He looked forward to the weekends when his family arrived to spend time with him. In time, the cancer spread and the chemo had done a little to shrink the tumour in his lung. Dad went through two courses of chemotherapy and one of radiotherapy. These took their toll on his body but never his spirit. Earlier this year he collapsed at home and he was admitted to Treliske. The news wasn’t good. We were taken to a family room whilst Dad was being treated and we were told that at best, we had him for 6 months. I remember we all held each other and cried. We put on brave faces to go back to him, but our hearts were breaking. Dad came back home for a little while, then he was admitted to hospital by our GP. It was then decided then the hospice was the best place for him. Dad spoke to me that evening. He asked if I knew that he was going to the hospice. I nodded and he said…” This is Goodbye then…” The next day he was escorted out to the ambulance by Lyndsey, a family friend, who was also a specialist haematology nurse and had organised Dad’s journey When I walked into St Julia’s on the first evening, I felt at peace. I found Dad sat up in bed eating homemade soup with his family around him. He said, “It’s alright here”. “The nurses...or Angels as I prefer to call them” Over the following days, the care and love Dad received was amazing. The nurses always took time to chat to Dad and to us. We were encouraged to bring photos and things from home. We were allowed to bring Elvis and Hamish to visit, the Westies belonging to my brother Paul and myself. They loved being on the bed with Dad and they lay there patiently whilst Dad stroked them. Whenever we left, he’d say, “Give that boy a squeeze for me…Not too hard mind!!” We had a lovely last Father’s Day with Dad. He saw all his children, grandchildren and Annabel his great granddaughter, along with Elvis and Hamish. We drank tea and ate homemade cake. There were so many of us there, we had to spill out on to the courtyard. Sadly Dad deteriorated. On Tuesday he slipped into unconsciousness. We were all there. The nurses...or Angels as I prefer to call them, worked quietly and attended to Dad whilst we were there. I loved the way they still chatted away to him and told him what they were going to do, as if he was wide awake. We were asked if we’d like to say the night. A put you up bed was produced along with copious amounts of bedding and room for two in the family room. We spent two nights there. We were looked after and cared for by the nurses and carers. NOTHING was too much trouble. Gradually Dad worsened. On Thursday the 17th of June, we were all sat quietly in his room. His breathing changed and the colour drained from his face. We all gathered around him, kissed him and told him we loved him so much. We held him and each other. At 3pm, Dad sat up, opened his eyes and breathed his last. We were left to grieve for as long as we wanted. A tray of tea was bought in for us and we were told to stay as long as we wanted. We were lucky that Dad had been admitted to St Julia’s. The care he got and the love and care we received as a family was incredible. St Julia’s isn’t just a place to die…there is nothing to be afraid of. In my firm belief, those who work there are Angels. Many people go to a hospice for symptom control or for their medication to be corrected. Dad was a very kind and loving man. He put others before himself and he loved life. He lived it to its fullest and as a family we still miss him dreadfully every day. The journey has been made easier for us with the help, love and dedication of those who work at the Hospice and we can never thank them enough for taking care of Dad. It’s a lovely thought that all the fundraising Dad did, would eventually benefit him and us. As a family we will continue to raise money to help others to have the care and love we received. “It’s a lovely thought that all the fundraising Dad did, would eventually benefit him and us.” If you have been touched by Pat and Nicola's story and would like to help Cornwall Hospice Care, you can make a donation, hold a fundraising event, donate your unwanted items to our shops, join our weekly lottery or help by volunteering for the charity.