Belinda my daughter, my youngest daughter, was diagnosed with terminal cancer whenever she was 24. She worked as long as she could. She was a veterinary nurse and her boss, the vet, was very very good with her and she would have gone in even just to sit and talk with him. She still wanted to go out with her friends at the weekends and she was able to manage her medication to do that. Also she had a good network of friends who didn’t treat her differently because she had cancer.
Belinda and I had already discussed her funeral arrangements, what she wanted. She wanted to die at home with her animals and she wanted her sister to be there. And I said well you know in an ideal world you can get what you want, it just doesn’t always happen I said, but I’ll do the best I can. This lady appeared on the Thursday and I presume she was sent by the hospital but she came in, took off her coat and started to, as I said, tick boxes, asking Belinda could she go to the toilet by herself, could she eat by herself and all the rest of it. And I could see my daughter getting quite irritated at this because she never had anybody to help her to do anything. She always was able to cope on her own and she wanted to cope on her own. She went to work as along as she could. She went with her friends as long as she could. So whenever this lady, sort of, was getting a wee bit intense I realised I am going to have to get her out, so I put her coat back on her and said, maybe another time we could finish this off.
I didn’t make any big issue out of asking about palliative care and I suppose also too, I think perhaps if I had mentioned palliative care it might have been a negative thing to Belinda. I’m talking in hindsight here, you know, not, sort of, what happened at the time. But I do feel it was a disjointed situation, you know, nobody seemed to know what was happening and we certainly didn’t know what was happening. There was nothing conveyed to us, other than she had months to live, not weeks. She was going out on Friday night for a meal with her friends, who had, she had been bridesmaids with one of them and they were all getting together for a dinner that night, which they did. Belinda had a fillet steak which was her favourite. So I realised, well, that’s good, that she is getting a good bit of meat into her, which even so I knew she really wasn’t well. She also had asked her sister to come down and stay with her that Saturday night and I said, well, I’ll give you a ring to see if she has arrived down. Later on, about half seven I phoned her and she said, yes, they were just getting some food gathered together and I said, that’s good, and she said ‘I’m going to have a sleep for a while and then I’ll get up and we’ll have a night together’. I said, well that’s good; sure ring me if you want anything.
So when it came nine o’clock that night her sister phoned me and told me she had died. Looking at it from Belinda’s point of view now, I think Belinda got what she wanted, she died in her sleep, she wasn’t in any pain, which is really what anybody wants for somebody dying of cancer, whether it’s a young person or an older person and she was with her sister, which is what she wanted and her animals round her, you know. So, I think really, in hindsight, it worked out ok.