Our caring teams try to do all they can for our patients and their loved ones to ensure they are able to make the most of each day. We’ve had Christmas in July, various four-legged friends come to visit our wards and we’ve made special trips to the pub with our patients so they can enjoy an afternoon in their favourite local.
When Anthony Pugh from Shrewsbury came to stay with us at our hospice in Bicton Heath he was very poorly but determined to attend his daughter’s wedding six days later. With our support he was able to escort his daughter down the aisle and enjoy a memorable day with his family.
Anthony’s wife Ann reveals how the hospice helped them as a family at such a difficult time.
“Anthony was diagnosed at the end of 2011. Pretty much straight away his prognosis was not good as the cancer had gone too far,” says Ann. “Like a lot of people he didn’t get any symptoms until it was too late. With Anthony’s prognosis they wouldn’t have normally offered any treatment but because he was so fit and strong he went for a course of chemotherapy, then radiotherapy and even took part in a clinical trial as he wanted to help others who may find themselves in the same situation in the future. We were also referred to one of the hospice’s Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), she used to come and talk to Anthony about his illness and the hospice but he was so determined to fight and be positive for as long as possible he didn’t really want to talk about it.
“Towards the end of August he went to see his consultant, he was walking and talking as normal but just mentioned that he had a sore mouth. Unfortunately he deteriorated very quickly. Up to that point he had seemed so well. Our CNS came to see him, upped his medication and told us to call if he didn’t improve over the weekend. He was really poorly over the weekend. It really was an awful time. So I rang the hospice first thing on the Tuesday morning, as it had been a bank holiday weekend, and they told me to bring him in straight away.
“We all hoped that his medication would just need tweaking and that he would be able to come home as our daughter Laura was getting married six days later. Unfortunately as soon as the doctors saw him they said he was a very poorly man. We told them about the wedding but they didn’t know if he’d make it which was absolutely devastating for all of us.
“Laura was in pieces and wasn’t sure if she could go through with the wedding given how poorly her dad was. It was a horrible, horrible time. The nursing staff at the hospice were brilliant, they didn’t just help Anthony they helped us as well. They spoke to Laura and helped her see that he would hopefully get there and how much it would mean to him.”
With the wedding day drawing ever closer, the hospice team worked with Anthony and his family to pull out all the stops to ensure he would be able to see his daughter get married.
“Harry, the hospice chaplain, was very supportive and made tentative plans to move the wedding and have it at the hospice if Anthony wasn’t going to be able to get there,” Ann explains.
“The day before the wedding Anthony was really poorly, so much so that if Laura had been getting married on the Saturday instead of the Sunday he wouldn’t have got there. The nursing staff suggested we take his wedding suit to the hospice hoping seeing it would spur him on and it did.
“The day of the wedding my son Ian came to the hospice to get ready with his dad whilst I helped Laura. As he left the hospice in his wheelchair, all the nurses were singing the wedding theme and waving him off. Bob, the hospice’s patient transport co-ordinator, had arranged to take him to the wedding and Lily, one of the nurses volunteered on her day off to accompany Anthony with pockets full of medication just in case he needed anything. He got to the wedding and took Laura down the aisle, it was absolutely lovely. The nurses said that it was through sheer determination that he made it to the wedding. He stayed until the wedding breakfast and then came back to the hospice for a rest.
“After our meal we all came to the Hospice to see Anthony but he was sleeping so we left him resting and went back to the evening celebrations. We had been there half an hour when we got a phone call from the hospice; it was Anthony to tell us that he was on his way back to the party. Everybody was absolutely flabbergasted to see him back at the wedding. Everyone said that it was one of the loveliest weddings they had ever been to. It makes you realise what’s important in life; it’s not the little things that often seem so important, it’s the people that you love and share it with.
“The wedding really took it out of Anthony and afterwards he slept a lot. He died six days later. Even after he died we stayed a little while at the hospice talking to the nurses about Anthony and we left with a smile on our faces. I can remember saying that I never thought I would walk out of the hospice with a smile on my face but we did. We felt that his death couldn’t have been better and that’s all you can hope for at such a sad time. You don’t want to see anyone suffer and he didn’t. We are so grateful to everyone at the hospice for helping us achieve that.”