“St Catherine’s were weight bearers for us”
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we provide help at home for eight in ten people that we care for.
The Jenkins family know how essential our community support is after we cared for their much-loved husband and father, Mike Jenkins.
Mike was a kind and sociable man who knew St Catherine’s well. Living in Crawley from the age of ten, he was even a neighbour to the hospice, living on Malthouse Road, for 14 years.
Mike’s wife Sally says: “Mike and I had always known about the hospice, right from those early days when we lived in Malthouse Road. Mike even shook Princess Diana’s hand when she visited the hospice in 1988.”
Mike had been diagnosed with prostate cancer for ten years, but his symptoms started to escalate in autumn 2021.
“I wasn’t keen to let the hospice in at the start. When someone is terminally ill, you are in shock. It’s the first stage of the grieving process and you know things are coming to an end.
“You think you can cope, and then you realise it’s harder than you think. There is so much you don’t know.
“When we were first referred for palliative care one of the consultants from the hospice came to see us at home. She was excellent. She just knew what we were going through. St Catherine’s are experts in pain management and in supporting the family.
“That first appointment was such a relief. From then on, I stopped needing to ring several people. I just had the hospice number and I spoke to them. St Catherine’s made a big difference.”
Mike’s son Adam explains: “Before the hospice helped us you could see the pressure building on Mum. St Catherine’s were weight bearers for us. The consultants and nurses were excellent. They were gentle, great communicators and so accurate with what they were saying. It gave Dad an element of control over his pain too and it made such a big difference.”
Mike’s son Jack and his partner Cat also witnessed the positive impact of the care:
“When we came to Sussex we could see Mum and Adam’s energy draining. The hospice coming in was light relief for them. The nurses were there to support the whole family. Just being asked “Are you alright?” meant a huge amount at the time.”
Sally remembers: “Mike wanted to be at home. If he wanted a cup of tea or to put on the TV, we could do that for him straight away, things were normal. The last month was not just us all being sad. Sometimes Mike used to say, “I still love hearing everything around me. Thank you for doing it all next to me.”
“In the final weeks of Mike’s life, I spoke to St Catherine’s a lot. It’s so traumatic to go through but you have to go through it.
“The last day we had with Mike was a cherished moment. He was fully aware and talking and we were all there around his bed, and he told us he loved us and we told him the same.
For us, the hospice equaled help. Once you’re in it, you understand it – it is so vital. I just say thank God we had the hospice – it would have made it so much harder for us without it.”
The family were so thankful to the hospice they decided to fundraise in memory of Mike.
Adam explains: “Before Dad’s funeral we set up a JustGiving page and every donation was a massive emotional support to us. It was such a boost and it gave us confidence at a time when it’s never been lower.”
Jack’s partner, Cat, was inspired take on a huge swimming challenge for St Catherine’s. She undertook The Scilly Swim Challenge, a 15km race between the Isles of Scilly.
Cat says: “St Catherine’s has done so much that it felt the right thing to do. I’d had my eyes on the event for a while and after everything that happened, it gave me the motivation to do the fundraising.
“I wore my St Catherine’s t-shirt when I was training and a couple of people came up to me and told me how much hospices meant to them too and they donated to me. It’s moving to see how many people are affected and hold hospices in such high regard.
“The swim was meant to be 15km in total but because of the terrible weather on the day, the swimming route ended up being 11km. We knew the water was going to be choppy, but I did not expect the weather that we had. I remember thinking, Mike’s done this deliberately to test me!
“I initially set a fundraising target of £3K, but in the end my total was £5,660!”
Cat is now the proud owner of a new bright orange St Catherine’s swimming cap and she’s not afraid to wear it; “I’ll definitely wear the hat – it matches my orange wetsuit! I’m thinking of swimming the channel in a relay team next!”