Patients, family and supporters share their experiences of our care and their support
24 May 2015
Steve worked with his sister and brother in law in
their own cleaning business. Marion worked in insurance, during her 11am break
she would often see Steve as he went from job to job and regularly shared a
joke or two. Steve’s brother in law dared Steve to come in and see Marion for a
quote and the relationship started from here.
Marion and Steve had their first
date on 23 February 1975. She saw him practically every night after that
because she knew very quickly he was “the one”. He was such a loveable person;
he could light up a room full of friends or strangers. In Marion’s words, she
thought ‘He was amazing.’
They married the following year in July 1976 and
enjoyed a wonderful marriage.
Marion and Steve went on to have two
daughters, Kelly, now 35 and Donna, 31. Donna celebrated her 30th
Birthday with a party on the August Bank holiday weekend in 2013 and at this
time Steve was fine. He was a panther taxi driver so he offered to be the
transport for everyone and chauffeured guests to and from the party but the
next day, he took to his bed, he had no energy and couldn’t even stand up.
Marion called the GP who thought it might be a virus and recommended bed rest.
A week later he was still no better. Steve didn’t want to eat or drink. The GP
treated him for a water infection but this medication still did not improve how
he was feeling.
By now, Steve was feeling dizzy even when simply lying in his
The GP organised for Steve to have
some blood tests at home as he wasn’t keen on hospitals. These showed Steve was
severely anaemic and the GP called for an ambulance. An endoscopy and chest
x-ray were conducted, Steve was admitted to the IDA unit at Addenbrookes
Hospital on 12th September. He then had a further CT scan and a repeat endoscopy.
The following day, Friday 13th
September 2013, the consultant and a number of students came into his room.
Marion knew this meant bad news. They had found a tumour on Steve’s pancreas
and seen something on his left kidney. Marion remained positive and was adamant
to keep Steve positive too.
Over the next few days, Steve had
five or six units of blood and the doctors continued a sequence of tests. It
appeared the tumour was putting pressure on his internal organs.
September 2013 Steve felt very sick during one of Marion’s visits and ended up
vomiting a lot of blood which alarmed everybody. The following morning another
endoscopy was carried out, where they glued the tear and stopped the bleed.Steve was stabilised and able to return
home on 24th September 2013.
Steve took the attitude that he was not going to “give up”. “I will
do anything”, he said. However, sadly at his follow up appointment it became
very clear that there was no treatment available to cure the cancer, due to the
position of the tumour, it was inoperable.
Palliative chemotherapy was offered
which would potentially extend life but no-one said how long for or what Steve
would encounter if he chose this route. Now they knew it was terminal, all the
family were all in tears. They felt isolated and alone. Steve and the family
returned home to await news of a further appointment.
Steve and Marion attended the oncology clinic on 5th November 2013
and met a lovely nurse called Carol and many supportive doctors. They were
really helpful and Steve and Marion felt very supported by them.
choose the strong version where he would have three drugs intensively over
three days which could offer him some extra months of life, or go for a smaller
dosage of drugs over a longer period of time. Steve chose the stronger option
determined to fight for the longest length of life.
Steve also had a kidney biopsy, admitted on 29th November,
resulting in no kidney cancer apparent. He was already on Morphine for pain relief
which made him more comfortable. A referral letter from oncology consultant was
sent to his GP for support.
The palliative chemotherapy for
Folfirinox was given in oncology on 7th December, through the Picc
line, over three days. Specialist palliative care nurses Julia & Carol from
Arthur Rank become involved. Steve was very weak and ill and on one occasion,
we had a GP and Julia from Arthur Rank visit, Julia tried to get Steve into AR
but no availability at that time. But it was good to feel we had some support
at last! Someone friendly and helpful at the end of the phone so we didn’t feel
Steve felt very ill on Boxing Day 2013, and was rushed to A & E
with a chest infection and a temperature of 40 degrees, he was then discharged
3rd January 2014.
Marion still recalls all the side effects. Marion desperately
wanted Steve to be healthy and happy during this difficult time she wanted him
to be able to make the very most of the time he had remaining.
had such a drastic effect – causing mouth infections, leaving Steve with lack
of energy and all food and drink Steve tried to consume tasted horrible - Or in
his words like poison. It took a long time for the chemotherapy to wear off.
As he became weaker he contracted another infection and was back in
Addenbrookes, 29th January 2014 for three days.
When we got home Steve was no longer able to manage the stairs, or
walk, so we lived in the lounge for the next few months. Steve missed lots of
oncology appointments, but was offered further chemotherapy. Marion felt Steve
was not strong enough but Steve was adamant.
The second bout was Gemcitabine on
7th March 2013, administered at the health centre every Friday for three
consecutive weeks. Steve was so, so
poorly but kept saying he was fine, still determined to fight.
Marion added ‘As the infections become more frequent and the need
for care increased, Steve was admitted to the hospice on April 1st 2014. For
the majority of the time Steve was stable but I remember one hiccup during the
night, clearing his throat became difficult and he started to panic as he
struggled to breathe. The nurse came immediately and provided a nebulizer which
enabled him to breathe more easily. The next morning a therapist came and
showed me how to manage this if it reoccurred and that was reassuring.’
Steve and Marion’s daughters would visit at lunchtime, Steve and
Marion had encouraged them to continue at work for as long as they could. They
could see that both Marion and Steve looked calmer and happier in the security
of the hospice. Marion and Steve were able to spend, as Marion explains ‘They
had three lovely weeks together at the hospice. Steve’s spirits had lifted, his
body was struggling but he was happy and chatty.
With Steve’s symptoms now under control, Cilla, the social worker
for Arthur Rank Hospice, talked Steve and Marion through what might happen next
and the possibility of Steve going home for a while with a view to returning in
the future. They were nervous at the thought of leaving the Hospice but Cilla
explained what support and equipment could be provided for them at home.
It was understood that Steve would be too weak to climb the stairs,
so Cilla, with the support of the occupational therapists and family prepared
the home for Steve’s return, when both Steve and Marion would live
By Easter Sunday everything
had been delivered like a new hospital bed, commode, ramp etc, so it was
decided they would make a trip home to see how they were able to manage. The
charity organised the transport to and from the Hospice and it now seemed less
daunting to take Steve home. The visit home went well and when they returned to
the hospice that evening there was an Easter egg on his pillow-this made Steve
A few days later, Marion took Steve home. Steve found it emotional
at the thought of leaving the staff who he felt so comfortable with, he had
become very fond of many of them and he had his favourites. He loved the
Jacuzzi baths and massages; he even had his bed wheeled out in the sun one day.
He was so chuffed that Marion even got a pampering one day with a massage and
haircut. We had alot of happy days at the hospice, the staff were amazing and
gave us so much time.
We had four special weeks together at home. During the time at
home, we would try and keep busy; Steve would say ‘He would like to go to ASDA
shopping. He was great at finding bargains!’ It was lovely weather so Marion
and Steve made the most of this and Marion found herself wheeling Steve from
place to place. Steve enjoyed his garden and often asked to be wheeled into the
garden. He was inpatient though and unfortunately this was one occasion Steve
wouldn’t wait for Marion to help move from the chair and Steve fell. Marion
needed the help of a neighbour to pick him up and fortunately between them
Steve was sat back in the chair.
Steve then came down with another chest infection. Their GP visited
and wanted him to go into Addenbrookes but Steve made it clear he did not want
to go back in there.
The GP rang Arthur Rank Hospice on 22 May and Steve was
admitted later that afternoon.
Steve slept most of the time, he was now extremely weak. Marion
knew things were changing. The doctor confirmed this saying it was now very
serious and it was possible Steve could die overnight. The girls stayed with
Marion and the Hospice opened the ward so the family could all stay close by.
The doctor talked them through what was being done for Steve, how they were
managing his pain and the uncertainty of the “unknown”.
Steve was aware of who was there although he could no longer speak.
Throughout his illness, Steve and Marion’s daughter, Kelly, had been juggling
her time with her parents and studying for a qualification, even whilst at the
hospice. She found it difficult to concentrate but Marion kept encouraging her,
Marion and Steve knew how important this was for her future. Steve was
extremely drowsy but he opened he eyes and I could tell he was looking for
Kelly. ‘It’s ok’, I said, ‘She had gone to submit her exam’. When she returned
he opened his eyes and Marion asked Steve ‘How proud of her, he was?’ He gave a
thumbs up, he was so proud. Kelly ended up with a great exam result. Donna also
found this time difficult juggling her life with full time work, a 3 year old
and being with her dad.
Steve was aware there were many family members around him, which
caused him to question if he was nearing the end. The family couldn’t face to
answer this question. So they asked the doctor for help and to answer his
questions. She asked Steve what he wanted to know. She was so honest with
Steve and she answered all of his questions calmly and sensitively and he knew
it was nearly his time. Marion felt it was important that details of his
condition came from the doctors as the family had always been so positive with
Steve they didn’t want to admit they were losing him. He accepted the news and
Marion felt he then began to let go.
It was so hard for everyone. Marion explained how it had got to a
point where he wasn’t living; it was a torture to watch.
On 29 May 2014 at 11.30am, Steve died. His
wife, daughters, son in laws, sister and niece were all present.
All the family continue to support the Charity by taking part in
the Star Shine Stroll, The Big Bike Ride, donating to the shops, funeral
donations and James completing a Half Marathon.
We as a family can’t thank ALL of the Arthur Rank hospice staff
enough for all of the support and special care given to all of us during our
time there. Being able to stay with Steve day and night and even being able to
have our daughters stay during our final days was just amazing.
It was so nice
not having visiting restrictions, like you do at hospitals. When a loved one is
so ill/terminally ill you do not want to leave them and they do not want to be
left alone. Our support continued after Steve’s death, with bereavement
counselling offered to all the family which helped us all at a tough time. We
cannot praise them all enough. We cannot praise all the staff enough. Once
again, we thank you all at Arthur Rank Hospice.
"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
If you have forgotten your password, please contact us
Donations to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity
Thank you for choosing to make a donation to us.
You can help patients and their loved ones living within our community who are faced with the challenging effects of life limiting illness by making a donation in one of the following ways.
Registered Charity No 1133354
A charitable company limited by guarantee Registered in England and Wales No 7086155