“My Mum Geraldine was a teacher. She was selfless and encouraging and always used to tell me and my sister, that as long as we did our best it didn’t matter about any outcome.
In August 2016 Mum and Dad came back from a holiday and I noticed she had a bit of droop to her face. I work as a physio so I decided I’d keep an eye on it. Mum and I went to visit her family in Ireland and while we were there her face became worse so when we arrived home, we took her straight from the airport to A and E.
In A and E Mum was admitted to hospital where doctors discovered mestatic tumours on her brain.
She was given steroids and initially seemed to respond well, but following a referral to the Royal Marsden we discovered her condition was terminal. It was devastating. Initially Mum’s doctors gave her some time. But during further scans they discovered her tumours were much more aggressive than they’d first thought. And we didn’t have as much time as we’d first thought.
Mum was adamant she wanted to stay at home but as she became less well she was finding it harder to move and it was harder for my Dad to help her get up and down the stairs. It was at that point I moved back home to help care for her. And in a way I switched roles. I stopped being her daughter so much and switched to my healthcare role. It meant I was able to give Mum the care she needed. And after all Mum had done for my sister and me it was nice to look after her.
St Catherine’s seemed to fit seamlessly into our lives and their nursing team arranged everything we needed for Mum at home.
Community nurses started visiting, equipment was delivered, and the hospice helped us get a hospital bed set up in our lounge for Mum.
Being Irish Mum was part of a big family and as she became less well, we called her relatives who flew over from Ireland to say goodbye. Her friends came to say their goodbyes too. Although it was a really difficult time we were all supported by St Catherine’s.
During that time providing Mum with practical care like washing and changing helped keep me and her in a bubble. I knew the little things that Mum most loved, and I felt grateful that St Catherine’s nurses let me care for Mum. They were like angels. They were never intrusive but they instinctively knew what was needed and sensed what mood to strike. They always got things so right. And I wouldn’t have been able to care for Mum without their support.
Having Mum at home with us meant we had chance to spend quality family time together and to make some lovely memories.
One day Mum perked up and was more awake than usual. It was a warm day so we’d flung the lounge windows open and turned up Gabrielle, one of Mum’s favourite singers, on the stereo. My sister and I danced around Mum’s bed singing and she sung along too. It’s a memory that I’ll always treasure.
The evening before Mum passed away me, Dad and my sister were sat around her bed. Mum loved detective and house based TV programmes and we were watching a stream of them. She also ate a good dinner that night. It felt like she was getting a last fix of all the things she’d loved the most throughout her life and saying her own, final farewell to them.
Later that night I had an instinctive feeling that something might happen so I stayed up late with my Aunt sitting next to Mum. In the early hours my Aunt went to bed but I climbed into Mum’s bed in the lounge and cuddled her. As I lay there holding her I knew it might be the last cuddle I had. That precious cuddle was only because St Catherine’s helped us keep Mum at home. I wouldn’t have been able to lay with her like that anywhere else.
The hospice provided Mum with everything a hospital would have but in the comfort of our home.
Thanks to St Catherine’s, Mum had all her creature comforts alongside her medical care. Without the hospice there would have been a point where Mum would have had to go to hospital. She would have hated it and we’d have found it really hard too.
Losing Mum was horrible and I’ll never forget it, but I’ve learnt to live my life fully because Mum can’t live hers anymore. I like to think she’s in the sunbeams looking down on me. And I’ll continue to do my best to make her proud.”