Thanks to scientific advances, more than one third of cancer cases can be prevented and another third can be cured. But people around the world still die from cancer every day, which is why organisations like The Myton Hospices are vital in ensuring that people whose cancer is terminal have support to live well for longer and when the time comes can have a good, dignified death.
People like Kate Miles, who was able to have some control over her death thanks to Myton. When she was told she had a matter of weeks left to live, she decided she wanted to spend that time at home.
68 year old Kate had been having dizzy spells and scans revealed she had brain metastases. Her prognosis was not good; she and her family were told she would have just weeks left to live if she didn’t have chemotherapy, and no more than a few short months if she did.
Her son, Steven, explains:
My sister Kati and I did lots of research when we found out – as you do! We spoke to mum and told her she had a choice; at that moment she was well and not in any pain but if she had chemo she would likely become ill. What is the difference between weeks and months? Especially if those months are going to be spent feeling unwell from chemotherapy. She was so relieved and said ‘you’re right, I do have a choice,’ and she decided not to have chemo.
He remembers how his mum defied the initial prognosis and lived for three months. During that time the Myton at Home team came to meet Kate and her family.
Steven and Kati both moved back to their parents’ house to care for Kate. She was fiercely independent and wanted to continue to live as normally as possible for as long as she could. As specialist equipment like walking sticks, wheelchairs, toilet seats and even a new bed arrived, Steven and Kati would hide it from their mum and retrieve it only when she decided she needed it.
It was a difficult journey for her because she used to be a home care manager and this time she was on the other side of the situation. After about two and a half months of caring for mum, we were exhausted and wondering what was going on as we thought we only had a matter of weeks left with her. We were up all night, my sister was literally a nurse.
We had lots of support from district nurses and Macmillan nurses. Mum wanted to stay at home until the end but the further along we went, we realised there were things which you have to do which you don’t ever imagine having to do for your parent like taking them to the toilet, administering suppositories. One day I told Kati I couldn’t cope anymore and phoned Myton because we were so desperate. We had been coping so well until then. Then Myton was there every single day, several times a day. It made it possible for us to keep mum at home right up until the end. When the Myton at Home team came in it was about care, but one of the nurses, Maddy, would also do mum’s nails and she really looked forward to that.
Myton enabled Kate to feel in control of her death. And for her family, the most important thing was that they had no regrets, and nothing left unsaid once they found out there time together was limited.
The whole journey has made me unafraid of death and what happens. Mum got what she wanted by being able to be at home to die.
You can help Myton to continue to be there for...
people from the moment they are told their cancer is terminal, or are diagnosed with any incurable illness, by donating money, goods, your time, by taking part in our events, or by sharing stories like Kate’s!
Find out how you can get involved this World Cancer Day below.
You can find out more about World Cancer Day here and to find out about cancer signs and symptoms please see the infographic below.