Dave’s Story

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_image src=”https://www.stch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/dave-story-hero-image.png” image_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1582711479391{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]”Sheila and I were both very fit. We’d always done sport then we got into ballroom and sequence dancing. Then she started losing weight and was diagnosed as being diabetic. It threw us a bit. It was August 2014 when we were told Sheila had pancreatic and lung cancer. A specialist bluntly told us she wouldn’t make Christmas, but another specialist was more helpful and suggested we make the most of the time we’d got.

At that point we were put in contact with St Catherine’s Hospice.

Community nurses came to our house to offer Sheila treatment and advice. When we were considering family holidays they told us to go for it and to enjoy things as much as we could. And we did! Sheila was very strong willed and during our last holiday to Swanage in October 2014 she walked to Durdle Door and back. I was more knackered than she was! We had some lovely family holidays, and she got to see Xmas 2014 too. In March 2015, we went out for a meal together to celebrate 47 years of marriage. We’d already started planning for our 50th anniversary but after that, she started to go downhill. As things got worse, Sheila went into St Catherine’s.

She passed away in May 2015 after just four days at the hospice. But those days made a real difference.

Hospice staff are a different breed of people from ordinary hospital staff. They show a real interest in you, whether they’re part of the nursing team, housekeeping, or the kitchen team. They’re all so friendly and nearly always stop to say hello, which is really important. It was lovely to be able to stay overnight too. Philip, James and I all stayed and even when I woke up at 3am someone offered me a cup of tea.

Although it was a dismal time I remember a nurse mentioning a volunteer caricaturist.

I thought ‘what’s she talking about?’ But the caricaturist dropped by Sheila’s room and drew a picture of her in between visits from doctors and nurses. That picture’s now a treasured possession. I even used it for the order of service at Sheila’s celebration of life.

During those last days, our two sons brought our grandchildren into the hospice and we were able to spend time playing games with them. Sheila’s bed was wheeled out into the patient garden so she could enjoy that too. The garden’s beautiful with colourful flowers and a water feature, and Sheila absolutely loved it.

St Catherine’s didn’t stop their care once Sheila had passed away.

And they arranged counselling for me with the Patient and Family Support Team. I was very angry but I had a very nice counsellor who helped me a lot, and told me it’s usual to feel angry. It got me going a bit and has helped me to see things positively. I’ve kept in touch with the hospice ever since.

Now, I do all the fundraising I can.

I gave Sheila’s clothes to the hospice’s charity shops, do bucket collections, and volunteer at events where I can. And I’ve just signed up to do my first ever skydive. I used to be athletic and was thinking about what I could do to raise money. When I saw some other people doing a charity skydive I thought I could manage that. At 81 years old I can’t do walks now, but a skydive is just one step! If Sheila knew she’d have probably said I was a silly bugger but it’s worth it if it raises money.

Sheila always kept a bright smile considering what she’d been through. She was still cheerful, so I’ll jump from that plane with a smile in memory of my beautiful wife.”