It was Thursday 2 January 2014, when our family’s lives changed forever. My dad, Ron, a fit and healthy 69 year old retired motor mechanic was rushed to Arrowe Park Hospital with a suspected stroke. Our world stopped.
Following tests we were given the heart-breaking news that my dad had a brain tumour. We couldn’t comprehend the information and were left numb. Days later we were told that my dad was being transferred to the Walton Centre to undergo a biopsy of the brain tumour. We remained hopeful, but feared the worst. The news we got could not have been any worse; it was confirmed as a grade 4 brain tumour, inoperable and untreatable. We couldn’t understand how this could have happened to my lovely dad, a good kind and gentle man, who helped everyone, loved his family and had so much to live for.
My dad was told he could come home, where my mum and I cared for him, something that he really didn’t like, as he was very independent and an extremely strong man. It was at this time that our district nurse, Andrew, introduced us to Wirral Hospice St John’s.
From the moment we arrived at the Hospice, the staff and volunteers were just amazing. We felt like we were among friends, safe, secure and protected. My dad was given the medication he needed for his discomfort and my mum and I were supported practically and emotionally. We soon learnt that the Hospice cares about each patient and their families as individuals. Kind, understanding words, hugs, endless hot drinks, smiles and someone to listen are all part of everyday life.
My dad was comfortable, surrounded by his family and friends, and cared for in the best way possible. It was dad’s request he was where he wanted to be. Thanks to the support of the lovely nursing staff I had the courage and the opportunity to say the things I needed to say to my dad.
On Friday 14 March at 1.30am my wonderful dad sadly died with me and my mum, his wife of 45 years, holding him. My dad’s death was the saddest day of my life but I’m happy to be able to say he died peacefully, pain free and most of all with dignity.
When we left Wirral Hospice on that cold, foggy morning, we felt scared to leave the sanctuary of the place that had become our home for the past two weeks and scared to leave the protection and kindness that we had come to rely upon.
The Hospice continues to support my family. I attend regular counselling there, which helps me to deal with the many milestones that present themselves and my mum is helping out with fundraising events and projects.
We decided that we would hold a coffee morning in my dad’s memory in September. The generosity of everyone towards the Hospice and the memory of my dad blew us away. We are thrilled to have raised £2,400 for the Hospice and we get great comfort in the fact, that this will help future families in Wirral going through a similar experience that we have been through.
I will also be taking part in Wirral Hospice’s Light Up A Life this year, making a donation in memory of my lovely dad to help care and support future patients at the Hospice. To me they are not just lights, they are all stars; stars that shine across Wirral in memory of the people we love.
Sarah Marshall, Wirral Hospice supporter