My hospice helped me celebrate Christmas early
St Catherine’s Hospice in West Sussex is a member of our beneficiary charity Hospice UK and they provide expert care and support when life comes full circle. The hospice also help terminally ill people and their loved ones build special memories – which can be more important than ever at Christmas.
After Elaine was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, St Catherine’s brought Christmas Day forward to November so she could celebrate the festivities with her husband and children in her hospice room while she could.
“St Catherine’s helped me decorate my room with a Christmas tree, twinkling lights, and hanging decorations. They are very amenable and the nursing staff loved the idea of bringing Christmas forward as much as I did. I wanted to be able to celebrate a nice day with my family and give them some gifts. We brought in food and the nurses took pictures with my family and sung along to Christmas music,” Elaine explained.
“My brain tumours mean I can sometimes be forgetful so when my daughter arrived with the presents there was one sack for her but two sacks and two stockings for my son! I had forgotten what I had bought him so he got more gifts than I had thought – he definitely did well! It was nice for me to see them opening their pressies. I did not want anything other than to see them.
“At the moment my health is rapidly going downhill. My illness has affected my vision, speech and hearing, but I still want to fully take part in things and St Catherine’s is helping me do that. I have always loved celebrating and It is brilliant I can continue to celebrate at the hospice. It means a lot that I can make things as lovely as possible for everybody.
“St Catherine’s is like a family and the staff and volunteers are more than 100 per cent dedicated, they cannot do enough for you. They have got to know my family and being at the hospice makes me feel safe and relaxed. That is a massive thing as it can be scary when you are ill.
“It was a big shock finding out I had cancer as I had never even been ill before and it meant all my plans for the future were gone. When St Catherine’s was mentioned I automatically thought it was the end. At the hospice everyone is so happy and positive though, and it has taken away my fear because I know I will be looked after and the team will make me as pain free as possible. I feel so safe, I know I am going to be okay. The only thing I cannot do is protect my family and I worry about them being left behind, but I know they will support each other.
“Now I have come to terms with things I am adjusting my life to try and fit in as many memories as I can. St Catherine’s helps me look at things in a very positive way, and I have got an advantage compared to people who are literally just run over because I have got the chance to say goodbye to my family.
“I always thought a hospice would be miserable and depressing but it is not at all, it is lovely. It has been a complete eye-opener learning what a hospice actually is and it is one of the most worthwhile charities you can support.
“Helping me make the end of my life enjoyable has been one of the greatest gifts St Catherine’s could give me and my family.”
Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors, in 2018, the National Garden Scheme donated £500,000 to Hospice UK so they can provide vital representation and support to hospices like St Catherine’s, and deliver the highest quality of care to people like Elaine and her family. All admission proceeds, as well as the majority of proceeds from refreshments and plant sales at open gardens, goes straight to the National Garden Scheme – so your visits help change lives.
To watch Elaine’s video visit St Catherine’s Hospice – Elaine’s Story