We spoke to Kay Smith and her son Patrick (6) about their experience with St Benedict’s when Kay’s dad was cared for here.
“My dad Kevin was just 61 when he died.
He was a fit and healthy loving husband, dad and grandad who was also a brilliant darts player, travelling all over the UK to play. Out of the blue he developed severe stomach pain and after several weeks and many trips to hospital, he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, a rare cancer that affects multiple parts of the body.
Dad began chemotherapy straight away, saying he wanted as much time as possible with his grandchildren who were just 2 and 8 at the time. The chemotherapy was really difficult for him and after three months the hospital suggested he spend some time at St Benedict’s Hospice. By this time Dad could hardly walk and was struggling to eat and drink. We were very concerned as to us going to a hospice meant someone was dying. Dad’s doctor reassured us that going to St Benedict’s was to help him gain the strength he had lost during his chemo.
He spent six weeks at St Benedict’s and everybody was so lovely, not just to Dad but to all of us. My son Patrick was just two at the time and the nurses would come and take him and his cousin Lexi to play with the toys at the hospice or outside to feed the ducks. They called the hospice ‘Grandad’s hospital hotel’ and that’s really what it was. The care Dad received from the whole staff was incredible. Everyone was just so nice and would always pop in to say hello and chat to my Dad, whether it was a cleaner, healthcare assistant or Dad’s consultant. Once when Dad didn’t feel up to having the massage he was offered, they offered it to Mam, saying they were there to help her too.
After his stay at the hospice, Dad was well enough to come home for Christmas and spend time with his precious grandchildren, creating special memories for all of us to treasure. Sadly after a few months there was nothing more that could be done for him and Dad came back to the hospice, spending his final weeks surrounded by his family and friends with the support of the incredible staff there. They were there for us every step of the way and that support carried on after Dad died, with many of us receiving counselling, including from the specialist children’s counsellor.
We would have genuinely been lost without St Benedict’s and our family is committed to supporting the hospice however we can. Any support you can give to this year’s Light up a Life campaign will mean so much to families like ours.