On 10th September 2023 Emily will be doing the Great North Run on what would have been her dad’s 62nd birthday, but will actually mark a few days after the first anniversary of his passing. Emily said “Dad loved Newcastle and was always envious of his stepsons studying there, so running this race, in this city, and on his birthday, seemed like a really fitting tribute to him. Dad was incredibly generous and always wanted to help others and by telling his story, I hope that we continue his legacy. If this helps one other person receive a diagnosis or reach out for help, then we will have succeeded.”
Emily’s Dad was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in September 2021 and was given 6-12 weeks to live. Emily continued “We didn’t know if he would make it to Christmas that year, but due to his immense strength and the help of the doctors, nurses and especially Hospice at Home West Cumbria, we were able to have almost a whole year with him. That meant he got to meet his grandson, watch his stepson get married and watch me, his daughter, graduate. Being with Dad almost every day for that final year of his life was the greatest privilege of my life, but we wouldn’t have got through it without the support from Hospice at Home West Cumbria.
Palliative and end of life care is not something people really speak about. With a diagnosis usually comes ‘how are we going to fight this?’, but no one talks about what you do when there is no cure, no chance you are going to get better. This is what we knew from day one of Dad’s diagnosis, which is where Hospice at Home West Cumbria came in. Their team supported not only my Dad, but the rest of the family as we started down a road we never thought we would have to go down.
They helped us try to understand the process of dying, what palliative treatment is available and what Dad’s options were, because even though he was dying, there were still options that he could make for how he wanted to die, which is extremely important. Hospice at Home West Cumbria gave Dad the option of dying at home, which was ultimately what he wanted. Unfortunately, due to complications in his last few weeks, Dad had to be in hospital and eventually passed away there. But Hospice at Home West Cumbria were working tirelessly to get him home, even to the extent that at the exact moment he passed away, a specially designed bed was being delivered to our house so he could come home. It didn’t happen for Dad, for reasons out of anyone’s control, but to have that option brought peace and comfort to him in his final weeks.
Speaking from the perspective of caring for someone who is terminally ill, Hospice at Home West Cumbria have been incredible. They provided a safe space to talk about how this was affecting me, provided nursing care when we needed more support for Dad, and helped me understand more about palliative care and dying. They have inspired me to get the conversation of palliative care started, to the extent where I am now going to study Public Health in the hope of helping others in similar situations to ours.
Hospice at Home West Cumbria are essential in a rural area like West Cumbria. An in-patient hospice wasn’t really a feasible option for us, as the nearest one is at least an hour away and would mean we couldn’t be with Dad all the time. And for many, comfort is found being in familiar surroundings with your family by your side, which is why dying at home has to be an option. However, this costs a lot of money – specialist equipment is needed and specially trained health care professionals to provide round-the-clock care. For example, one specialist palliative nurse for a whole night of care costs £170. Therefore I am hoping to raise as much money as possible to give back to Hospice at Home West Cumbria and help them care for other terminally ill patients and their families.
During the year Dad was ill I heard a quote that said: “To love someone/something completely, you have to love the ending too” and thanks to Hospice at Home West Cumbria we had the space and support to find love in Dad’s ending, and for that I will be forever grateful. Please donate if you can, but if you can’t please support your local Hospice at Home West Cumbria team where you can and also encourage those you love to talk about their health, as early diagnosis can possibly save someone’s life.”
To donate to Emily’s fundraising page, please visit: