“We wept with relief when Dad got a hospice bed”

News and Blog

Katie and her family were struggling to care for her Dad Richard at home before a bed became available at our hospice. Here she shares their experience.

“Dad was a very active, hands on Dad, always willing to help us with our homework or with whatever we needed. Growing up we had a lot of lovely memories.

In 2018 Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour

I’d just gone to university and my brother Jamie was living in Hong Kong. We were shocked but Dad was very positive and didn’t let his diagnosis define him or hold him back from living life.

He said, “I’m going to have my treatment and we’re going to keep going” so that’s exactly what we did.

Dad’s health declined very rapidly in April 2021

My Mum became his carer which was difficult and put a lot of stress on her. Then Dad got an infection and was admitted to East Surrey Hospital.

It was around that time that a doctor sat our family down and said, “we think he may only have a few weeks left so it’s time to think about what you want his last few weeks to look like.”

We decided it would be best for Dad to go to St Catherine’s

Initially there wasn’t a bed available, but a week later we got a call saying there was a bed for him.

We wept with joy because at that point we were just surviving.

I thought the hospice would be full of death and sadness

So I was very nervous about visiting but everyone was so friendly and kind. Doctors also honestly talked us through what was happening to Dad, which meant it wasn’t quite as scary when things progressed.

Dad had a real sweet tooth and was always asking the nurses for cakes and ice cream which they’d gladly bring him. Little things like that made me realise how much St Catherine’s cares and how making people happy and content really matters to them. The hospice’s care took a weight off our family’s shoulders.

Dad was at the hospice for a week before he died aged 60

But even afterwards we didn’t feel discarded. The hospice stayed in contact and offered us counselling, and when Mum picked up Dad’s things the team were so understanding and helpful.

Our ongoing connection with the hospice has been important and we’ve since fundraised.

Jamie and I ran the Reading Half Marathon then Jamie did the London Parks Half Marathon and a 100km bike ride in Dad’s memory

It was such a good way to remember Dad and his get up and go spirit, and to make sure other people can experience the same care he did in the future. It was amazing to raise over £5,000, which we’ve split between the hospice and the Royal Marsden, and it’s helped us with our grief too.

I know Dad would be pleased that we’ve had a positive mindset and fundraised to honour him and the people who looked after him so well.”

It’s only thanks to the generous support of our community that we can be there to care for people like Katie and her family. To help us continue to care for more families in the future please consider making a donation today. Anything you can give will make a difference – thank you.