“Mum was fun loving, she loved life and her family and she was always smiling” says Danielle, aged 27.
Her mum Joanne was diagnosed with lung cancer on 27th August 2016 and was told that it had spread to her ovaries. She was given chemotherapy which she was responding well to until December that year, when she was told that it had spread to her brain. After receiving 10 sessions of radiotherapy in January 2017 and major surgery later in May, she was feeling much better continuing to receive 18 months of chemotherapy.
“We had a normal life and we actually sometimes forgot that mum had cancer. We went on a family holiday to Portugal but we knew something wasn’t right. Mum was in pain. So when we arrived back in the UK we returned back to the doctors.”
Joanne’s cancer had spread again and she was offered surgery to remove the mass. Following this, she was told that at that point, there was nothing more than they could do as it was spreading quicker than they could control.
After a short time in hospital, Joanne was admitted to Weldmar Hospicecare and stayed at our inpatient unit for 10 days before being discharged home again. “We had so much faith in the care that was available” says Danielle. “The staff at the hospice helped us feel incredibly at ease every step of the way. Not just the nurses but also the reception staff, housekeeping, chefs – they all made you feel like you were never in the way or too much trouble and worked around us as a family.”
Joanne was discharged home again where she was able to create special memories with her family for an additional three weeks. This enabled the family to put up the Christmas decorations together, something that was always a family tradition. On the third week at home Joanne started to deteriorate more and it was at this stage that they were told that the cancer had also spread to her kidney. Although they tried to carry on at home, the family agreed that she needed to be admitted at to the hospice again.
“Returning to the hospice a second time felt so safe and it meant that we could just focus on mum and not have to worry about home and the responsibility. We were able to stay close by her side so she was never alone and it meant that we didn’t have to keep saying goodbye. On the Friday night mum and I watched a film and the next day had morning coffee in the Orangery. Later that afternoon, we had lunch as a family and went for a walk around the hospice gardens. It was special for us to spend that time together. That evening we were called back to the hospice because mum had deteriorated.”
Three days later, and the morning of Weldmar’s Light up a Life service at the hospice, Danielle dedicated a light on the tree for her mum. “I went outside and made some calls to our family to try and get them together that evening. As I stood and looked at the tree, there was the most perfect robin sat in there. Me and mum always had this connection with robins and it’s our little thing.”
Later that afternoon, Joanne, aged 51, sadly passed away with her family by her side. They gathered together and attended the service that evening to remember Joanne. “I knew how much mum would have loved the service, down to the carols chosen and the words that were spoken. It felt right for mum to pass away on that day. She was always intuitive and I believe she knew the service was that night. I sat by mum’s side and read her the Light up a Life order of service which is something that will stay with me forever. I know she would have loved the service. Knowing that mum was in the hospice wasn’t a sad thing, it was actually when we had to leave was the sad part. That’s just the kind of place it is.”
“For those who have never been to Light up a Life before I would say go, you’ll find a peace and closeness that you may not find anywhere else. If it hadn’t been for Weldmar, I don’t think we would have felt the peace that we do now and it will always be something that is forever close to our hearts.”
Our thanks to Danielle and her family for sharing their story. If you would like to remember a loved one this Christmas, whether they are cared for by Weldmar or not, you can attend one of our Light Up A Light services across Dorset.Find a Light Up A Life service near you