Mary was initially diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in November 2012. It came right out of the blue. She took the diagnosis fantastically; she was an amazingly pragmatic person, more concerned about other people than herself. So from the beginning she did everything she thought was right, she read up about it, she thought about it, she put all her affairs in order, she started working through things, she had a list of things she wanted to do, things that, you know, she thought she might get done. And she was really fantastic, but we always knew that it was going to be a short period of time.
During the two years that she was ill, she was thinking about what she had to do with her life and what she needed to sort out and one of the things she was interested in was what would happen when she got too ill to look after herself, and she wouldn’t come and stay with any family, she didn’t want to be a burden and she didn’t want to be looked after at home. She didn’t want nurses coming to the house; she didn’t want to see her house as a place of sickness. So she knew about the hospice and made enquiries and actually organised to have a meeting with the clinical manager. I remember asking her did she want me to come with her and she said ‘no, no I’m fine I’ll go’ and had a very, obviously, a very good meeting and was pretty sure that the hospice was what she, the way she would like to spend the last time, last moments of her life. She just took to it like she knew it was her last home and it was absolutely fantastic, we were thrilled, I mean it was such a lovely place for us to come and visit her too.
She had all her needs looked after but what she really loved was the care she got and the fact that she was treated as a living person and not a dying person, she really liked. Shortly after she was admitted she was moved into a single room with a beautiful view of the birch trees outside and she really loved that and she said to me, ‘I wonder would you go home and get my bird feeders and hang them from the trees so I can watch the birds’. So one of my happiest memories is hanging the bird feeders on the birch trees and she is leaning out the window telling me, ‘up a bit, down a bit, move them a bit’, so it was very nice to be able do that. And then we’d sit and watch for the birds, and actually only the squirrels came more than the birds, but, yeah it was just her making it her place. She, what she loved, the doctors were fantastic and the nurses, and she really appreciated them but what she really loved was, I suppose, the other services like the aromatherapy, which she loved, and the massage, and the different types of care that she got, that just looked after her physical needs as well as her emotional needs.
So her last ten weeks, despite the fact that she was in some discomfort, but physically she just had a very very nice ending. And it was just fantastic for us, it really couldn’t have been better, it was a fantastic experience.