Gemma and Amanda grew up together on Canvey Island. With three years between them, older sister Gemma describes Amanda as ‘…her best friend.’
“Amanda is one of my favourite people and there’s no one like her. Everything about her made her special. We were there through all the hard times and good times. She was there at the birth of my first child, we were Maid of Honour at each other’s weddings. We were each other’s shoulder to cry on through heartbreak and always the first on the dance floor together.”
In August 2018, at just 32 years old, Amanda was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. She was determined for life to continue as ‘normal’ as possible for her husband and their two young children.
When Amanda’s pain increased at the start of the pandemic, she was referred to Fair Havens. Gemma says, “It was such a shock that she was being admitted to Fair Havens as we couldn’t believe she had deteriorated that quickly. But then we realised that she was just going in for rest and pain management and would be coming home.
“It really hit hard hearing that she needed to go to a hospice though. I didn’t realise hospices offered that care and she come out feeling so much better because she was so well looked after.”
Amanda spent the summer at home with her family, and was admitted to Fair Havens for a second respite stay in September as her pain worsened. Gemma says, “We felt so powerless. Not knowing how long she had left was horrible, but we were glad she was being looked after so well by the Fair Havens team.
“They would check up on us during the day to make sure we were OK and offering a cup of coffee. I didn’t realise at the time but it was a comfort to know that they were there and ready to help at any time.”
Amanda did go home and was supported by the Fair Havens Hospice at Home Team. She finally came back to the hospice a week later to be cared for at the end of her life because she didn’t want to die at home.
“Each time we left, I felt like I was saying my final goodbye and hoping that I could come back to hold her hand for longer. I did this four times and each time it crushed me inside.”
Amanda died on 4th October 2020 at Fair Havens. She was 34 years old.
“The pandemic made the worst situation I’ve ever been through even harder. But the fact that we could just press a button at Fair Havens and someone would come running to help her was such a comfort. She was in the best possible place with the best nurses and doctors to care for her. Amanda was also helped by the Wellbeing Team, offering emotional support and showing her things to do to leave the kids.”
“I feel incredibly lucky to have called Amanda my sister and am so very lost without her. I just want to make her proud.”
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Published in 2022
Gemma, Amanda's sister
I didn’t realise hospices offered that care and she come out feeling so much better because she was so well looked after.