Sunday, 8 May 2011

Good Cause - Gordons School Ball in aid of Woking Hospice

On Friday night I spoke after dinner at the Gordons School Ball. They asked me to speak as they were raising money for Woking Hospice and they asked whether I would give a personal insight into the great work they do.

Here are my words:

6 months ago I lost the love of my life. Steve was only 40 when he was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer and devastatingly lost his battle only 18 months later.

We like many people thought we knew what a hospice was, we immediately thought of this terribly sad place where quite frankly people went to spend their last days.
How wrong we were. The hospice is so much more than that.
Within weeks of Steve’s diagnosis we met the most wonderful woman. Jane Howard who is a community nurse for the hospice came to see Steve and I. She is a no nonsense woman with the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met.
I always remember that first meeting. And to be honest Steve was not looking forward to the meeting and as he described it “I don’t want any bothers coming to see and talk to me about what I can and cant do now that I have cancer!” How wrong he was! She quickly made it clear that she was there to support Steve in any way he needed help and certainly not to interfere or stop him living his life! And having grown up with 3 brothers and married to a fire man she knew that fussing was not what Steve wanted!
When you have a terminal illness life has to be about quality and that is what Woking Hospice is all about. Ensuring that everyone from the patient, to immediate family and friends are treated and cared for as individuals. And most importantly able to be the person you want to be without pain. I call them the pain experts! No one should be in pain.
As Steve illness progressed! Jane played more of a role. Often in the background and mostly directly with me and our GP, the hospice found a way to support Steve without him feeling like a patient. And a way that he felt in control of his life.
Steve treated his cancer as a nuisance, he was after all 40 years of age but not one that was going to stop him living his life to the full! So Jane and the Hospice team got use to Steve, knowing him well enough to know he wasn’t going to be stopped from playing golf, cricket or cheering Megan on at Gordon’s sporting events. They knew Steve going to challenge them and challenge them he did! Well after all he was Mr Wright!
Sadly 1 week after Steve and I were married in October 2010, things took a turn for the worse for Steve he no longer had any appetite and he was having trouble walking. By this time the cancer had spread. It was at this time that Jane suggested that Steve should come into the hospice for some support.
This was to be Steve’s home for the last 3 weeks of his life. But it wasn’t just Steve’s home; it became the centre of everything. I moved into the hospice with Steve, the staff set up an attachment to his bed so that we could have a double bed; they even went so far as to put chocolates on the pillow and call it the honeymoon suite! Steve parents moved in upstairs in the dedicated family unit, where they had their own room, bathroom and kitchen. The day room in the hospice turned into the social gathering, with Steve holding court as he always did! Victoria Steve’s daughter aged 10 commented on the fact that they even had a kids room!
Nothing fazed the hospice team! I remember one of the first evenings secretly our friends bought in a bottle of wine! But we didn’t have a corkscrew! A nurse walked past and saw and said no problem I think we have one in the nurses station! So after that the wine arrived on a nightly basis and was kept in the ice machine!
Pizzas were delivered, curry was brought in, no visiting times, no strict rules of who can and cant come! Everyone and everything is welcome.
This time was tough for us all but Steve felt safe, he wanted to be there. It allowed me to spend real quality time with Steve. I could stop being Steve’s carer and instead be Steve’s wife.
On the 10th November Steve passed away peacefully, out of pain and with his family by his side. The hospice allowed all of this to be possible. Steve’s wishes were honoured right to the end.
I continue to have support from the hospice through their bereavement support and in turn I and Steve’s friends have organised several charity events for them.
So simply when the GSA were asking for nominations of charities for this event their wasn’t anyone else that I believed deserved the money more than Woking Hospice.

I kept putting off writing this, as I knew it would take me back to a places I hadn't thought about for a while. Not that I don't think every day, well every hour about Steve but not in detail at about what he went through and the way the hospice helped.

It was well received and we raised over £11,000 which is an amazing amount of money and will make a big impact for the hospice as they depend totally on donations.

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