Jane and Anne's Story | The Hospice of St. Francis

Jane and Anne's Story

It was then that The Hospice of St Francis came into our lives.

My mum Anne had a wicked, dry sense of humour – and she didn’t suffer fools gladly. She was a great gardener and could talk for hours about Formula 1 (she was very into Lewis Hamilton!).

But during the last years of her life, she lived with breast cancer. She had an operation, and then chemo, and, unbeknownst to us, was told she had just a short time to live.

It was then that The Hospice of St Francis came into our lives. We’d always known about the Hospice, having gone to the open afternoons for cake and a walk round the gardens. But after a visit, mum decided it was where she wanted to be when she died – ‘And I’d like one of the Holly Rooms, please!’ she’d said.

But the treatment kept her cancer contained and we had six more good years with mum – gardening, going for meals with her and dad – just being together.

Early this year, though, the cancer drug just stopped working. I remember walking into work one Monday in early March, just before the pandemic started to take hold, to hand in my notice. I wanted to look after mum and dad for as long as I could.

This spring, I was caring for mum and dad all day, every day – cleaning, cooking, shopping and prescriptions – whatever they needed. But then dad had a bad fall and went into hospital and with the pandemic, none of us could go in to see him; it was terrible to know he was there on his own. We couldn’t even be with him when he died.

After losing dad, mum’s health declined rapidly. But ten short days later, just when we needed them, the Hospice came back into our lives once again. I don’t think there’s a word invented to describe what happens at the Hospice; Mum got her Holly Room, with its views of the wisteria-draped pergola and everyone just embraced her. From the doctors to nurses to volunteers, they treated mum like she was the only person there.

I felt nothing but relief. I remember one of the first things someone asked me was ‘Would you like some counselling?’ because, of course we’d just lost dad.

Sadly, mum couldn’t attend dad’s funeral so Ray, the Head of Spiritual Care at the Hospice, arranged for her to watch it on a live link. ‘Wasn’t that a lovely service mum?’ I asked her afterwards. I’ll never forget her reply: ‘Well! He’s only gone and stolen my funeral!’.

Mum just loved the Hospice – and Ray, who she found so much solace in. She was there just three weeks, but in that special place, we were able to have time together – to talk, watch the Grand Prix, and I could just be by her side while she slept. In the end, her death was dignified and free of pain.

I’m devastated she’s gone, but there’s comfort in knowing she got her wish. The love and compassion we received at the Hospice was just phenomenal. The Hospice helped people like me and it’s there for people like you, you never know when you might need it.

Ray’s asked me to take part in Light up a Life this year. It’s so important that we take time to remember and celebrate the special people, like mum and dad, who lives shone so very brightly. I hope you will join us too.

This spring, I was caring for mum and dad all day, every day – cleaning, cooking, shopping and prescriptions – whatever they needed. But then dad had a bad fall and went into hospital and with the pandemic, none of us could go in to see him; it was terrible to know he was there on his own. We couldn’t even be with him when he died.

After losing dad, mum’s health declined rapidly. But ten short days later, just when we needed them, the Hospice came back into our lives once again. I don’t think there’s a word invented to describe what happens at the Hospice; Mum got her Holly Room, with its views of the wisteria-draped pergola and everyone just embraced her. From the doctors to nurses to volunteers, they treated mum like she was the only person there.

I felt nothing but relief. I remember one of the first things someone asked me was ‘Would you like some counselling?’ because, of course we’d just lost dad.

Sadly, mum couldn’t attend dad’s funeral so Ray, the Head of Spiritual Care at the Hospice, arranged for her to watch it on a live link. ‘Wasn’t that a lovely service mum?’ I asked her afterwards. I’ll never forget her reply: ‘Well! He’s only gone and stolen my funeral!’.

Mum just loved the Hospice – and Ray, who she found so much solace in. She was there just three weeks, but in that special place, we were able to have time together – to talk, watch the Grand Prix, and I could just be by her side while she slept. In the end, her death was dignified and free of pain.

I’m devastated she’s gone, but there’s comfort in knowing she got her wish. The love and compassion we received at the Hospice was just phenomenal. The Hospice helped people like me and it’s there for people like you, you never know when you might need it.

Ray’s asked me to take part in Light up a Life this year. It’s so important that we take time to remember and celebrate the special people, like mum and dad, who lives shone so very brightly. I hope you will join us too.