Sue Coyston was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in March 2013. She spent the last few days of her life at Fair Havens Hospice where she died aged 57 on Friday 9th May 2014.
Sue’s son, Kevin, and his wife Nicola had struggled for four and a half years to have a baby.
Sue said "If I’m going to lose my life, give Kevin and Nicola what they deserve."
That same summer, the couple fell pregnant. Nicola said,
"I remember the day I told her I was pregnant, she cried her eyes out. She was so happy. She knew Kevin was going to be okay because he was finally going to be a Dad. It was bittersweet.”
After a family Christmas, just as she had always enjoyed, Sue’s condition deteriorated. She went to Fair Havens in April to get her medication under control.
Kevin said “Mum was rattling she was taking so many tablets. She was a patient but she’d had enough. She couldn’t even walk. Physically, she couldn’t do any more. It was horrible, the illness just ate away at her.
“Until you’ve been involved with it you just can’t understand what a hospice is like. It was calm, just calm. We could visit when we wanted, any time every single day. It was clean and immaculate. She had her own little room so she could get the rest she needed.
“The nurses there really care, they listen, they talk to you like a friend. They always knew your name, they made you feel comfortable. Even the kitchen staff would ask what Mum fancied, or make her something nice and easy to eat or offer to go and get her what she wanted. They fed my Dad too, a couple of times Mum even managed to get out of bed and they had dinner at the table together.
“They’d put a curtain around her bed and shut the door to get her changed, we’d be outside but you could hear her laughing and joking, the nurses giggling with her. They knew her, they were gentle with her. She could have broken a bone at any moment she was so weak but they took their time. The nurses would be there as long as she needed them. They’d ask which pyjamas and slippers she wanted to wear. They did her washing. Every little thing, all the tiny details – the service was five star.
“They cared for her as if she was their own. They were like family.”
“Sue would tell the nurses how over the moon she was about having a Grandson. We weren’t allowed to take him to the hospital but it made her really proud when we’d visit at Fair Havens, the nurses would all shout ‘Tommy’s here’. It was just lovely that she got to talk about him all the time. They used to help me lay him on her lap so she could give him a cuddle and talk to him. She’d cry when we’d take him away because she thought it could be the last time she’d see him so we wondered whether we were doing the right thing but when she saw him it made her so, so happy.
“She didn’t want to die in hospital, she wanted to be at Fair Havens. It was her choice, nobody else’s. It was only a matter of time. When she found out she got that bed she was so happy - happy to know she was going there.”
Sue died peacefully at Fair Havens Hospice on Friday 9th May, 2014.
“She fought and fought but it was one challenge she couldn’t fight in the end. They phoned me and said that it would be that day. They sat me down and told me she was comfortable, that she’d take a couple of deep breaths and that’ll be it. They told me that all I could do was to be there to hold her hand. She got to see Tommy. She’d seen me become a Dad. She said to Nicola, ‘make sure you look after him’. She knew she was going. She fought and fought but it was one challenge she couldn’t fight in the end, she’d had enough. It was about 8.30 that night. I held her hand, and she took her last breath.
“I still don’t think it’s hit me yet. I don’t know when or if it will but I miss her every day.”
Having unsuccessfully tried for eight years to get a place in the London Marathon, it was during Sue’s stay at Fair Havens when Kevin found out he would be join Team Havens for the 26.2 mile race in 2015.
“I remember sitting there in her room watching the Marathon on the telly and Mum said ‘You still haven’t done that have you?’ One of the nurses overheard and popped her head in and said ‘Do you want to do it? I think I can help.’ A few days later she said ‘You’re in.’ It was one of the last things Mum heard. She smiled in bed and put her thumbs up and that’s how I crossed the finish line.”
Kevin will be running his second marathon for Havens Hospices on Sunday 24th April 2016 to raise money for Havens Hospices in memory of his Mum.
“From day one at the hospice, I felt relieved and lucky. So many people gave their time to us; the driver, Day Care, the people at reception, the nurses, even now the care and support I get during marathon training. All of them, I can never thank them enough. They gave my Mum about eight months of their time, they gave us a home from home, they gave us a happy place to go and see my Mum rather than walking down a horrible corridor to some ward.
“I feel lucky she was there. I do. She deserved to go in a place like Fair Havens. She was such a nice, caring person and she was lucky enough to end her life there. If I won £30 million I’d give it all to the hospice but even that still wouldn’t be enough for what they did for us.”
You can sponsor Kevin at http://www.justgiving.com/Kevin-Coyston1
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, Fair Havens can help. Find out more about the care and support we provide here.