Patients, family and supporters share their experiences of our care and their support
Zoe shares Trudy's story
07 January 2014
Trudy’s story starts 31 year ago when Zoe & her younger brother remember waving their mum off to work as the family lived on Mill Road opposite the Hospice. Trudy would do the twilight shift as she loved her family dearly & it allowed her to spend days with the children but continue with the job she loved of an evening. It was around this time after many years of holidaying in Gt.Yarmouth the family enjoyed their first holiday in Malta. Whether abroad or in the heat of Mill Road Trudy was well known for grabbing every spare moment to soak up the rays, often taking her rest during the day in the back garden on a sun lounger.
Trudy suffered considerably with her chest & every October & March Zoe recalls Trudy would seem to suffer a bout of bronchitis. Zoe remembers her hacking cough, but Trudy would insist ‘let me finish my vitamins or complete the course of malaria tablets, I’ll be all right’ & she always was. In December 2012 Trudy became ill. Tests diagnosed pneumonia, but as determined as ever she continued working but Zoe noticed her mum was struggling. As Christmas arrived and as with most families, Trudy would also overestimate the quantity of food needed, turkey, duck, beef, nut roast would all be available, & ironically the nut roast made for Trudy alone as the only vegetarian. No sooner than lunch had been served, the buffet arrived with the infamous trifle & round two commenced! It was at this time that Zoe noticed her mum was lacking her usual energy & enthusiasm.
Zoe insisted that Trudy visit the doctor but Trudy was adamant she could wait until her next appointment which was planned for two days’ time. Zoe went on holiday & unbeknown to her, Trudy’s appointment was more serious than Zoe had been led to believe. Trudy was admitted to Addenbrookes to have her lung drained. Zoe returned from holiday & tried to contact her mum, but calls remained unanswered. Eventually Trudy replied & her reply was telling ‘I’m in Addy’s.’ Zoe immediately headed to the hospital. ‘Mum looked different; it was so unusual to see her look so poorly, tubes everywhere.’ I asked ‘Mum you don’t look good, what’s up?’ It was at this time Trudy revealed a biopsy has shown the cancer was severe. ‘I’m dying’ Trudy said, ‘I asked the doctor, will I see Christmas, he said no. I asked what about summer, shall I get my sun lounger out? He said ‘very doubtful, you’ll be fortunate to see Easter.’ For Zoe this was the real shock, ‘You assumed once everything was drained away, everything would be ok but it wouldn’t.’
The next day Trudy returned home. Trudy wanted to maintain as normal a routine as possible & was even keen to return to work, however her family & her colleagues knew this would sadly not be possible. ’Mum learnt to live with the pain but it was the mets in her brain which affected her the most. The heaviness of her head caused strain on her neck & mobility became difficult. She became forgetful & needed to write notes frequently to prompt herself.’ Having always been a keen online shopper, she now became a real e-bay enthusiast. ‘Mum was keen to treat everyone, I won’t be able to do it in the years to come, she would say. Even in her last days, parcels continue to arrive.’
‘We also wanted to do things as a family, Mum wanted to see the lion king & she wanted to go on the London eye.’ As a keen traveller, Trudy loved the lion king & as the sun set over the production, but added ‘the real things nothing like that,’ Mum had been to so many places & loved her holidays. She wanted to see her latest grandchild take her first steps in her walker & she managed all of these things.’
After remaining at home for the longest time possible, Trudy now recognised, she needed help. Living in a house became difficult so she came into the hospice. It was here where Trudy was able to enjoy a party for her family, special friends & colleagues creating special memories. ‘I could see mum was in pain, but she was determined to get the party.’ On the days which followed, Trudy became more poorly & by the Thursday of that week, she had deteriorated. ‘It was at this time, we knew it was sadly time for mum to go.’
‘The hospice is a fantastic place; it’s never had the awful stigma many people associate with hospices for me. This is where mum worked. Mum would say it’s not all bad; she loved what she did & how she could make a difference to someone’s life. Mum loved her family & her patients were her life. Whilst mum worked at the hospice & since, people come up to me & say ‘She was a fantastic nurse; she was fantastic at her job. At home, she was a special mum, a wonderful nana, at work she was Trudy making a difference to her patients last hours.’
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