My name is Anna and my father, Ian Smith, died at Warwick Myton Hospice on 6th December 2019.
The Sunday after he died we returned to attend our first ever Light Up A Life event there and, because of our families wonderfully memorable experience, we have been supporting The Myton Hospices ever since.
My father was a very health conscious and fit young 85-year-old gentleman with a real zest for life, especially reignited since becoming a “Poppa “to his only granddaughter, Paige in 2007.
So when my father shared, on Boxing Day 2018, that he was going to see his GP in the New Year as he was concerned about certain symptoms, we didn’t really think anything of it, and definitely didn’t anticipate we’d be arranging his funeral a year later on 16th December 2019.
After several consultancy visits and tests In February he was given the initial indication that it was possibly prostrate cancer, but that was finally concluded with a more worrying diagnosis of a rare form of small cell cancer that was hosted in his prostate.
We were told it wasn’t curable however Dad decided to put his total faith in his consultant who said it could be treated and hence, Dad being Dad, launched himself into six months of chemotherapy, with the month of July as respite, followed by three months of radiotherapy, ending in September 2019.
In all honesty, from an outsiders perspective, apart from slightly thinning hair on an already balding head(!!), you really wouldn’t have known he was undergoing any cancer treatment, as he remained very active with daily walking, gardening, swimming, occasional golf as well as continuing his work in the local community and as church warden.
We enjoyed our usual Easter family holiday together, boating in Devon and he remained hugely positive and hopeful throughout.
In September we celebrated the end of his treatment as a family and he and my mother, Jill, booked a well-deserved cruise for the November.
However, sadly they never got to go on the cruise as October was when Dad’s health started to deteriorate rapidly. He was admitted to Warwick Hospital with sepsis for two weeks and then November brought further spells in and out of hospital, with regular calls out from the paramedics at home as he was confined to bed upstairs and reliant on my mother and carers.
His consultancy visit in November was when the reality hit us as a family as, despite being given the positive news that the radiotherapy had shrunk the cancer, we received the devastating news was that it was rapidly spreading to his organs, namely stomach and liver.
The only options given, as he was struggling to take anything orally, was a blood transfusion, which he duly had whilst I sat with him in Warwick Hospital (still cheekily joking & flirting with the nurses)!
It was however, at this point that I asked the hardest question ever regarding his life expectancy, and we were told that he might not realistically live beyond Christmas.
So with heavy hearts, we had to come to terms that Dad’s wish of wanting to die at home was unrealistic knowing the palliative care he needed, and we were advised by a nurse to look at Warwick Myton Hospice.
My mother and I went to have a look round and I immediately knew that this was the place for Dad to spend his final days and, although not home it was definitely the next best thing.
He was transferred from Warwick Hospital to the Hospice and spent nine wonderful days there before he died.
On his first day at Myton he had his first ever head massage from the Complementary Therapy team, and loved it so much so he asked if she visited every day?
He thought the food was excellent and the nurses allowed us to bring all his personal belongings and photos to make his room feel as homely as possible.
We were able to laugh, smile and just transfer our constant worries as his carers to the wonderful nurses and return to being his wife and daughter again.
The Myton Chaplain facilitated visits from the vicars at Dad’s church and singing of hymns could be heard resounding down the corridor, plus all of his close friends and family, including my husband, Mike, and daughter, Paige, were able to come and visit him to say their goodbyes.
Mum and I stayed with him in his room for his last couple of nights allowing us both that special opportunity to say our own personal goodbyes whilst holding his hand; the last night was extremely hard but we had a lot of reassurance from the incredible staff.
In the morning we stepped out to have breakfast in the foyer and he chose his time to go, hopefully in the knowledge that we were there with him.
We were able to stay with him for as long as we wanted to afterwards, which was a special experience and one we will both treasure forever.
I can only describe all the staff, volunteers and nurses at Myton as our Christmas ‘Angels’.
My father died on a Friday and on the Sunday we attended Light Up A Life returning in the knowledge that his body was still at the Hospice.
We gained immense comfort from this wonderful service as it was so special, plus we knew Dad would’ve loved it, especially the music and the carols.
We have been coming to Light Up A Life ever since and it is now an important part of our Christmas traditions with the whole family writing their individual messages to Dad and “Poppa” to hang on the Christmas tree.
We continue, as a family to take every opportunity to fundraise, including my husband abseiling off Coventry Cathedral last year and I volunteer once a week at Myton Charity shop, to support the wonderful work at Myton.
Could you help support The Myton Hospices to ensure we can continue to deliver our care free of charge?
is the daily upkeep cost of our relatives accommodation
could fund two hours of specialist nursing care
could fund a child to attend five bereavement counselling sessions
covers the cost of one Myton at Home visit
Your donation is the daily upkeep cost of our relatives accommodation
Your donation could fund two hours of specialist nursing care
Your donation could fund a child to attend five bereavement counselling sessions
Your donation covers the cost of one Myton at Home visit
Every donation helps us to provide quality end of life care