A virtual trip to Egypt for Juliette

48 year old Juliette had been receiving support from St Wilfrid’s Hospice at home for about a year when she came to stay on the Inpatient Unit (IPU) for help managing her condition. The team knew she had big plans to experience as much of the world as possible, so took the opportunity to give her a taste of Egypt during her stay.

‘I started feeling ill in 2009 and saw lots of doctors who didn’t know what was going on,’ says Juliette. ‘Finally, in 2011 I was told I had a brain tumour and had my first chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I thought “what am I gonna do?” but I was just very happy that I hadn’t died.

‘I had chemo again in 2017, and I’ve had to have steroids and brain scans. I went to St Wilfrid’s because I’d been put onto steroids again and they were just keeping an eye on me because it can be very up and down.’

A zest for life
Juliette has a real zest for life and has been making sure to have as many life experiences as possible, including an ‘awake wake’ that she hosted last year.

‘I had my ‘awake wake’ up in Lancashire, where I’m from,’ she explains. ‘I had lots of friends there; we had a casino, and karaoke, and lots of photos from my life. At the awake wake I made a list of a load of stuff I’ve done, and a load of stuff I haven’t done. I’ve been to lots of places – Verona, on the Orient Express, up the Shard – but I really really want to go to Egypt to see the Pyramids and the Nile, and I don’t know whether I can now.’

On hearing about Juliette’s desire to visit Egypt the team at St Wilfrid’s started looking for ways to help her experience the pyramids from the comfort of the hospice.

‘We got in a great big TV into my room on the IPU, and the hospice made North African food and we dressed up and it was brilliant! And on the TV was a walking tour of the pyramids, introducing me to them. I didn’t know anything about them, but I could see the thick roads around them and understand how they worked.’

More memories made
Also on Juliette’s list was the Venice Carnival Festival which takes place in February each year. ‘I was going to go to that but couldn’t, so I chose to have something similar to the Egypt experience here on the IPU.’ Juliette’s family and local friends joined her for a Venetian birthday party, wearing masks and colourful clothes. They also took the opportunity while they were together to film sequences from The Addams Family and The Muppets, dressed up as characters from The Addams Family, using a portable green screen.

‘St Wilfrid’s were brilliant in helping the family to pull these experiences together,’ says Juliette’s Aunt, Barbara. ‘From putting aside rooms, to making appropriate food and a birthday cake and letting us store ice creams in their freezer, nothing was too much trouble.’

Juliette has now moved to a nursing home and is still supported by the team at St Wilfrid’s. She is busy making more plans – including ways for her family to celebrate her life at her funeral. ‘They are going to play the Addams Family and Muppet video that we made; it’s going to be very exciting,’ she says.

St Wilfrid’s Hospice supports people with life-limiting conditions in Eastbourne, Seaford, Hailsham, Uckfield and Heathfield (and all points in between), enabling them to live well at the end of life. They are a charity that relies on voluntary gifts to support 70% of their vital work.

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