Ken and Rita's Story
“Ken was first diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2011. He had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and for a while we thought he’d beaten it. But in 2014 his symptoms returned. He was in a lot more pain so he was referred to St Catherine’s.
When we were first told about the hospice we didn’t like the idea at all. It seemed so final. But Ken told me “I’ll try anything. I just need my pain under control in whatever time I’ve got left.”
When we arrived at St Catherine’s there was a sense of trepidation
Thanks to St Catherine’s Ken returned home again once his pain was under control. He continued to have visits from the St Catherine’s team but unfortunately his pain relief was short lived. Ken’s cancer was on the move, and we began struggling at home so hospice nurses suggested Ken go into St Catherine’s again.
Ken spent his last Christmas there and it was absolutely amazing. In spite of what was happening it was such a happy place. I even shared Christmas dinner with Ken in his room.
And St Catherine’s made it possible. They arranged equipment and we still had support from nurses. Ken fought to the bitter end. But thanks to St Catherine’s he was able to fufil his wish of dying at home. And I was able to be there holding his hand.
For the first six months after Ken’s death I went about in a bit of a fug. I realised I needed some help so I had counselling with a lovely lady from the hospice once a week. It helped enormously. I talked, cried and offloaded at my counselling sessions and left my baggage there.
I volunteer in St Catherine’s Caterham shop now because I want to give something back. When Ken died he was only 69 and I was only 63 so I couldn’t give up. It would have been an insult to Ken and everything he went through if I just flitted away. There’s more living for me to do.”