Mary’s story

Mary, 54, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in April 2010. By then it had already spread to her liver and bones and she was given 12 months to live. In June 2012 she was admitted to Fair Havens Hospice where she died on 9th July 2012.

Mary’s daughter Hannah says “The Care Team at Fair Havens always explained really clearly to us about Mum’s condition, her medication and what to expect.

“Everything was focused on dignity and comfort – this was the most important thing to us. We were involved in every decision. Her pain was dealt with quickly and this was so important – we never wanted Mum to suffer.

“Even after she died, they let us spend time with Mum and to help get her ready. We were told we could choose a flower from those on display downstairs. We chose a lily which were her favourite, and placed it next to her. It was those touches, those thoughtful gestures that we remember and cherish.”

Mary’s daughter Lydia says “I think if we knew more about Fair Havens earlier we could’ve persuaded her to the hospice and may have had a few more weeks with her as the doctors and nurses at the hospice were brilliant.

“I ended up calling Fair Havens myself and speaking to one of the Nurses who managed to arrange a bed for the next day. Mum said to me, ‘If you think it’s a good idea, then I’ll go.’ By this point, she was in a lot of pain and had accepted she needed more care.

“She got up the stairs OK and had a lovely room called Athens on the first floor. After the first night, she called me at 5am and asked when I was coming to visit which was so unlike my Mum. She was so independent, but obviously wanted us close by.

“For the next four weeks, Dad stayed every night and still went to work. In her last two weeks, the hospice arranged pull out beds for Hannah and I to sleep on and even our Uncle stayed one night. Nothing was too much trouble.

“It had been a long, drawn-out two weeks for us with Mum deteriorating then getting a bit better. I even arranged for her Priest to visit and read the Last Rights. It was tough for us, but the Care Team too. Many of them knew Mum but for her it was a comfort to know she was being looked after by those who knew her best. She was absolutely clear she didn’t want to die at home so to be at the hospice being cared for by a trained palliative care team – who involved us in everything – was just amazing.

“Mum died at 6.10pm on Monday 9th July 2012. We were all there and Fair Havens Hospice helped make this happen.”

In November 2018, to celebrate what would have been Mary’s 60th Birthday, and to raise money for a new Fair Havens Hospice, Lydia and Hannah organised a Dinner, Drinks and Dance event which raised £8,000 and saw auction prizes including a bungee jump and signed Beatles memorabilia from Sir Paul McCartney.

Lydia says, “Before Mum became ill, we do remember Mum talking fondly about Fair Havens when they announced they needed a bigger hospice to care for more people. She talked clearly about the importance of the hospice and that has never left us.”

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Published in 2018

Everything was focused on dignity and comfort – this was the most important thing to us.

Hannah, Mary's Daughter