Julia Bolsom, our Trustee of five years, spoke movingly to staff, volunteers and visitors at our Open Garden on Sunday 22nd September. Here is Julia's story in her own words:
Eight years ago today, 22nd September 2011 my mum died here, in this Hospice, in the IPU after a horrendous battle with gall bladder cancer.
At the time of her death I had an 18 month old daughter (I went on to have 2 more sons who she never saw) and my sister had a 5 month old baby – her first. We literally felt like we were drowning under the weight of these tiny children and becoming mums for the first time and losing our mum all at the same time – in a messy, painful, terrifying sort of way.
Mum came into this hospice when her doctors all agreed she had less than two days to live. She had heard from a friend that it was special and she wasn’t going anywhere else. She was adamant.
She arrived here on a humid Thursday morning in late August and went on to live for another 29 days. They were lovely days, sunny days where we were able to take her outside to sit in these beautiful gardens, days where we laughed, where she ate scrambled eggs that Chris (our wonderful chef) knew she loved eating, they were the best days that we had had with her since she was diagnosed and yet they were also the days when we knew with certainty that they were her last. This hospice helped her to LIVE her remaining life well… and in the darkness that could have surrounded us this place was a firm, guiding and comforting hand.
But The Hospice of St Francis gave my sister and I the kindest gift of all – the opportunity to become daughters again – to stop having to worry about the enormous weight of everything that came with her illness… the Pain relief, the medicine doses throughout the day, Food and water, washing her, arrangements and appointments and finally and most critically for all of us, mum included, our grief. Hers at not seeing her grandchildren grow up, us at losing her.
And all of this cost us nothing. We didn’t have to pay a penny for anything…it was all given freely and funded by people like yourselves. At the time we were told that it cost about £1k a night to care for someone in the IPU and so we set out to try to raise £29k to pay back our debt of gratitude.
In the eight years since mum died I have become a trustee here, my way of continuing to show how grateful I am and through this I have learned more and more about this incredible place, and the care and compassion that it pours out onto anyone who has need of its services. The Spring Centre and our community work, being a huge area of the hospice that I wasn’t even aware existed when mum was ill. Today we reach more people than ever before and as the need grows we want to make sure we can be there for everyone who needs our services in the future.
The support that you give is so important. I could stand here and say thank you a million times on behalf of our patients, on behalf of my fellow trustees, on behalf of our amazing staff, on behalf of our brilliant Executive Team and CEO and my words would sound right and good… but I wanted to tell you first hand, from the memory of that pain eight years ago today, that the things that you have done, the support you have given, the funds that you have raised or donated changed my life, and my sister’s and hundreds and hundreds of other people who have lost someone or come here because they need our help. So on behalf of all of us, please leave here today feeling proud because the difference that you have made and continue to make can never been underestimated.
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