“My wife Pat may have been little in stature, but she had a big personality and attitude. When she fell ill, I promised I would look after all 4 foot 11 1/2 inches of her. Because of lottery players like you, St Elizabeth Hospice made it possible for me to do just that.”
Last year Pat and I were preparing to take our new motorhome to France on its maiden voyage. This was to be the beginning of our retirement year. We had so much to look forward to. But Pat wasn’t right and she told me that she was feeling very unwell.
We postponed our trip and within a week we were told Pat had cancer in her lungs that had spread to her lymph nodes. She was to begin treatment immediately; there was no time to spare.
I remember thinking that in that moment, that our lives would never be the same again; things had changed utterly. Both of us were so scared.
Pat endured two rounds of chemotherapy. It was horrific. She hated being in hospital, spending her time lying in bed feeling rotten. Pat decided she didn’t want to carry on her treatment. She wanted to feel like herself again and enjoy the time she had left.
So the treatment was stopped and for a short time the Pat I knew returned. She made a bucket list of things she wanted to do. It was simple things like eating chips at Aldeburgh and having some professional family photos taken. But most of all what she wanted was to be able to stay at home. She couldn’t bear the idea of being in hospital again.
I supported her decision but inside I was really scared for us both. I had no idea how I was going to take care of her.
This is where St Elizabeth Hospice stepped in. We had regular visits from community nurses Harriet and Lesley who helped me to care for Pat at home. The hospice looked after her every need, whether it was help with managing her breathlessness and pain, or with personal grooming. This was always really important to Pat and some evenings, Lesley would arrive with a healthcare assistant to help her wash and groom. I was so grateful to the hospice, and it was at this time I started playing the Hospice Lottery. I liked the idea I could donate regularly and help the hospice care for others like Pat.
One evening Pat became very agitated and I didn’t know what to do. I felt so helpless. I called Nurse Harriet in the early hours of the morning and she came straight out to us. She increased Pat’s medication and she relaxed and drifted off to sleep.
It was such a relief to know that help was at the end of a phone and that I wasn’t alone.
The next day Pat went downhill and we knew there wasn’t much time left. All of the family gathered around Pat’s bedside and Nurse Harriet was there too. Pat died peacefully in her own home with everyone she loved at her side. I was so touched when Sue and Sarah the hospice health care assistants arrived and washed her, combed her hair and dressed her in fresh pyjamas. That would have meant the world to Pat and we were so lucky to have the hospice by our side.
But I know Pat is one of the lucky ones. There are many more ‘Pats’ who are desperately in need of the care and support the hospice can give. But right now they just can’t reach everyone who needs help. When I heard the lottery was increasing to £2 per number
so they can reach more people in need, I decided I wanted to share my story to let other members know how their lottery membership really makes a difference.