‘The hospice felt like home’

Julie Crush spoke to us about her husband Mike’s time at St Wilfrid’s.

‘Agreeing to go into the hospice was one of the last decisions Mike made and one of the best ones, too: the whole family’s experience of the hospice was truly enriching and meant we could be Mike’s family again rather than his carers.

‘Mike’s cancer was sudden – we couldn’t believe how little time we had left together – he was diagnosed in June 2016 and died in September. We had a long, happy marriage, were settled in Heathfield and have two grown-up children, so were planning on taking life a bit easier – the news of his illness was such a blow. However, I had overcome cancer myself, so initially he opted for treatment, but neither surgery nor chemotherapy was suitable for him.

‘Only a couple of months in Mike developed an infection that left him very confused and though successfully treated with antibiotics, further infections followed in the proceeding months. With the fourth infection, the antibiotics weren’t working, a bed at the hospice was offered to him and through his confusion, Mike agreed to take it.

‘I visited with our son soon after Mike was admitted, neither of us had been to a hospice before but as soon as we walked into Mike’s room, I knew he had made the right decision. Mike looked so peaceful – how could it be that he could be happier here than in his family home? But it worked for all of us. At home I had tried my best but it wasn’t until he got to the hospice that I realised that I just wasn’t managing.

‘On the third night, we decided to stay as Mike was clearly deteriorating. We set up camp in the family lounge though I wanted to be closer to Mike so spent the night on the riser recliner chair in his room. I put the TV on as we used to do at home and the staff provided me with lots of tea – nothing was too much trouble.

‘We freshened up at home on the Friday morning and returned to the hospice and spent a few hours with Mike before he died. We are left with such happy memories and I will always be grateful for that.’

Beyond patient care

Julie visited one of our bereavement support counsellors after Mike died and adds: ‘I was amazed at how hospice care went beyond care for the patient. At every step, the family was involved and after Mike died I was offered some counselling. I didn’t think I needed it, but it helped me no end.’