sue and barbara's story

In February 2013, Jessica’s mum Sue started experiencing severe stomach pain. The following month Doctors found a large tumour on Sue’s ovaries. Following treatment and a hysterectomy, Sue was given the all clear in February 2014.

However, during a routine monthly check up the cancer returned and she began chemotherapy again. By the summer of 2015 Sue needed radiotherapy but whilst she was on the waiting list, the cancer started to spread and by February 2016, her health was deteriorating. She caught what doctors thought was pneumonia but it turned out the cancer had spread to her lungs and was spreading around her body.

During the same time Sue’s mum Barbara, Jessica’s Nanny, also started feeling unwell and following some tests Barbara was told she too had cancer in her bowel, stomach, lungs and liver.

Throughout March and April 2016 both Sue and Barbara were in and out of hospital. The night before Sue’s 50th birthday she fell extremely ill and called an ambulance for herself. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016 she was admitted to Fair Havens Hospice where she spent the last two days of her life in the care of their specialist nurses and doctors. 

Jessica, Sue’s daughter and Barbara’s Granddaughter, says

“It was so bright and homely. We just thought ‘Wow.’ Considering it’s a sad place, it was so happy. Mum wasn’t really talking at this point, she was way too poorly. She was frail and was basically sleeping all the time so she didn’t get much of an experience there. But for us? It was so much better knowing she was there. It was just where we wanted her to be.”

Sue died aged 50, in the early hours of Thursday 5th May, 2016.

“We knew she was going to pass away and I am just so happy it happened at the hospice. The nurses and the doctors at hospital were great, but it’s just not a nice place. It’s always so busy, with people rushing around. You could never relax and it made everyone feel stressed. The hospice was so much calmer and everyone there was lovely. We felt so much better knowing she passed away in a peaceful, warm environment. We couldn’t have asked for more.”

Shortly after, as Barbara’s condition deteriorated, she was admitted to Fair Havens.

“We got there and she was sitting there in her chair like the Queen Bee, with her dinner in front of her, absolutely loving it in there. I said to her ‘Are you alright Nanny?’ She said, ‘I‘m having a great time! Look, you can see the sea from my window, it’s so nice.’

“It was exactly what she needed. It was perfect. I went the next day and she said, ‘Guess what I’ve had done today? They painted my nails and they brushed my hair.’ She was getting the real VIP treatment.

“But day by day, she was deteriorating. Three days before she died she was a different person, she had started to hallucinate, she would repeat herself and she really wasn’t in a good state, it was really upsetting because we’d never seen her like that, she’d always held herself together.”

Barbara was 72 years old when died at Fair Havens on Tuesday 31st May, two days before her daughter’s funeral.

“What they did for Mum and Nanny is what they do for so many other people on a daily basis. Those nurses are the best, it takes someone special to do that job. They deal with dying people every single day, knowing they aren’t going to get better. To be able to do that? Honestly, it’s amazing. I certainly couldn’t.

“Fair Havens honestly has a really special place in my heart.”

Jessica, Sue’s daughter and Barbara’s Granddaughter 

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