Share Your Story
Hearing about others' experiences can be helpful when dealing with death and bereavement. Do you have a personal experience that you'd feel comfortable sharing with the campaign? If so, let us know...
Last New Year, I was looking forward to finishing my exams, enjoying the summer holidays with my kids, and nervous about them starting their new schools. I thought that the only thing I would have to be worried about was whether I got my grade (I was re-taking my Science GCSE after 25 years!!) and whether it was going to be a hot summer.
Then in June, the day after my final exam, my mum had a routine test at the hospital.. An endoscopy. She had been experiencing stomach pains, and had lost weight. I had been so engrossed in my revision that I hadn't seen how serious it actually was. Until 2 weeks later when we saw the consultant surgeon.
Untreatable bowel cancer.
I drove home, got into bed, and lay for hours wondering what was going to happen now.
I told my husband in the morning. As if I was telling him dinner was on the table. I remember saying the words but feeling no emotion. I got the kids ready and walked them to school.
For the next few weeks I spent all my time at the hospital with mum, fighting to speak with the doctors, nurses, palliative care team, stoma nurse, gastro surgeon, consultants. Anyone who could tell me something, speak with me, explain things to me. I was very frustrated with the hospital. I understood that the nurses were doing the best they could with very limited resources, but did not feel mum was getting the right attention.
Very quickly they decided there was nothing they could do for her and she had to move to a nursing home. So I found one, got her moved, settled and spent all my time with her. She craved cold fruity things. Sorbets, raspberry ice cream, frozen strawberry yoghurt. Strawberry and watermelon coolie from Costa. They gave her such relief because the cancer had spread very rapidly through her stomach, lungs, liver and throat. She said she was being strangled from the inside.
Then she passed away. One day she was sitting up in the chair in the room with the other residents talking about knitting, the next she was writhing around in agony, begging the doctor to finish it all.
She passed a week before my 40th birthday.
And now I'm lost. I am facing my first christmas without my mum, and everywhere I look there are reminders of this fact.
I will do everything I can to give the kids a great christmas, but I am dreading it. I don't feel like I can do it without her, but I have to. So much conflict and contradiction is exhausting.
The Dying Matters Coalition is led by the National Council for Palliative Care,
the umbrella charity for end of life care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Freephone 08000 21 44 66