Patients, family and supporters share their experiences of our care and their support
Bernie & Sasha Baldock
12 May 2014
Bernie Baldock is a regular visitor and avid supporter of
the charity, and along with her daughter Sasha, wanted to share their memories
of the fabulous care Alan received at the hospice. Bernie started by saying
that Alan was Cambridge born and bred; he was a heating engineer for the whole
of his working life. "We met in the Chequers pub when I was 16 and were
married in May 1983. We have 3 children, Daniel, Dominic and Sasha."
Alan was first poorly in January 2012 and at first it was
thought that he had a chest infection. When his symptoms didn’t seem to get
better various other illnesses were suggested, angina, gallstones, muscular
strains and lots of different painkillers were prescribed.
In May that year Alan had an appointment at the cardiac
clinic at Addenbrookes and after many tests and a chat with the consultant
about the nature of his work it was suggested Alan had a scan of his chest. The
scan was inconclusive and an appointment at Papworth Hospital was arranged.
From this appointment biopsies were carried out and on August 6th we received
the devastating news that Alan had Mesothelioma which is a cancer of the
membrane around the lungs and is caused by exposure to asbestos. He was given
5-6 months as Mesothelioma isnt curable and Alan was offered various options
to try and keep the pain under control.
From this time we had many appointments at Addenbrookes,
Papworth and our GP, it seemed every time we went Alans medication was
increased as the pain got worse. We attended pain clinic specialist
appointments at Arthur Rank Hospice and this was the start of our association
with the hospice.
On Tuesday 23rd October Alan was admitted to the
inpatient unit at Arthur Rank Hospice to monitor his pain and try to get it
under control. Alan seemed to settle well and we think he felt safe here as
there was always somebody to make sure he was comfortable and as free from pain
as possible under the circumstances, he liked having his own room and a glass
of wine with his meal if he wanted! Sasha said "He also liked the Taste
the Difference desserts and watching Top Gear and Man v Food on his TV".
He had plenty of family and friends visiting him during the day and no
restrictions on visiting hours enabled us all to spend as much time as we could
Alan came home for the afternoon on the Sunday but by
teatime he was ready to go back to the hospice.
On Wednesday 31st October Sasha and I took Alan his newspaper and he
said hed had a fall earlier that morning and when I spoke to a nurse she
seemed to think his blood pressure had fallen and they were keeping an eye on
him. He had two more falls that day and when I visited in the evening he said
the nurses had caught him trying to escape to the pub! I thought that it was
the medication talking. I left Alan at about 8.30 that evening when he was
settled for the night.
At 3am the following morning I received a call from the
nursing staff saying Alan had deteriorated and they advised us to come to the
hospice. When we arrived Alan was very agitated and it took till almost
lunchtime for the medication to calm him down enough to enable him to sleep.
The doctor on duty said they didnt expect Alan to last the day and so various
family and friends came to say their goodbyes. Alan fought and fought and the
staff told us we could use the family room as there were so many of us there. This
was such a great help to us as it meant we had such a strong network of support
close at hand. Sasha said "The nurses brought us pillows and duvets and
showed us how to put the sofa beds up" The staff even suggested bringing
our dog, Marley as Alan had spoken to them about him. The family, Marley
included, set up camp in the family room and even took over the visitors’
kitchen. At one point we had slow cookers and washing machines on the go!
Marley was even allowed in Alans room and he would check
on Alan at various times of the day by putting his paw on Alans bed. I did
worry about the amount of visitors and asked the staff if I should send some of
them home and was told a most definite "NO". This was very important
to me as it meant I could spend all my time with Alan knowing the children were
being cared for and supported by the hospice team.
Even when Alan wasnt conscious the nurses treated him
with great care and dignity, we just couldnt fault their care. Alan passed
away at 9.45am on Monday November 5th and the staff continued to offer their
support to us.
People say how wonderful the hospice is but I can
honestly say, until you experience it you cant begin to appreciate just how
amazing the people working here are
When I heard of the plans for the new hospice I was a
little sad as we have lots of memories of Alans short stay there but it looks
like being a fabulous place for patients and that has to come first. The level
of care cant get any better though! Sasha said "It cant be a bad thing as
you had to run round just to get wet in the old shower!"
This is why we are both great supporters of the charity,
selling Christmas Cards and taking part in the Star Shine Stroll. Sasha and my
niece Chelsie organised a fundraiser in Alans memory and raised £3220! Sasha
said "I was inspired by the care my Dad received and the Hospice deserves
every penny we raise"
Bernie is also keen to become a volunteer and when the
second anniversary of Alans death has passed she will be able to sign up to
support the hospice and enable other families to experience all the special
things which her family appreciated. Other members of her family have dreams to
work for the hospice in the future to uphold the fantastic and compassionate
care offered to Alan.
To help raise these vital funds for the new hospice,
Teem Al II are again taking part in the Star Shine Stroll. we have set up
JustGiving page. Any amount is appreciated. www.justgiving.com/Teem-Al-II
"They basically just looked after her minute by minute for those final two nights. It was incredible. [...] It was very much as if we were being cared for as a couple.” Michael Barnes' wife Svitlana received care from our Hospice at Home team in February 2019. ... click for more
“Having special time together with Sam in those last few weeks as a wife, but also as a Mum - and for him being able to be a Dad – was really important. Hospice at Home allowed us to be family together, the four of us, at the end.” Xanthe’s husband Sam received care from our Hospice at Home team in 2018. ... click for more
Angela McGrath, Mum of Daniel shares her story and inspiration for walking to Liverpool in memory of her son ... click for more
“I felt like somebody who belonged there and was part of the family”. Kirsty Bradbrook tells us about her husband Mike’s care at Arthur Rank Hospice at the start of 2017... click for more
Jennifer Cater shares her story of the loss of her beautiful daughter Debra Jane Hodgson... click for more
We had the pleasure of chatting to Claire, who has taken part in Bridge the Gap walk since its first year in 2001 as part of the well known group, the ‘Sunflower Girls’.... click for more
Sally shares her touching and powerful story of her family and their relationship with the Hospice... click for more
I will never forget the moment that my husband Hugh broke the news that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The thoughts and emotions that explode in those few seconds are indescribable. The enormity of the implications, the effect ... click for more
Brenda & Stuart Evans reflect on Bridge the Gap
A couple who have ‘Bridged the Gap’ for many years.... click for more
Brenda & Stuart Evans reflect on Bridge the Gap
Kevin very kindly met with Donna Talbot in August this year and shared his touching story of the loss of Mary, his wife.... click for more
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