Eleven years ago, aged 23 but feeling nothing more than a terrified little girl, I walked into Warwick Myton hospice to see my Mum, Maxine.
She was 49 and dying. She’d bravely battled cancer for over a year and a half and had shown such strength, courage and dignity, but she couldn’t fight any more and deteriorated quite quickly.
We were unable to control her pain at home and when the word ‘hospice’ was mentioned we felt frightened.
It conjures up all sorts of dark and dismal imagery, but we soon saw this wasn’t the case. Walking through the doors, it didn’t feel clinical, it didn’t feel depressing. The staff were kind and gentle and always welcoming. There were beautiful gardens surrounding the hospice and patio doors in each room. It didn’t feel at all like a hospital and although we were feeling incredibly sad it didn’t feel like a depressing place.
The staff, peaceful rooms, and beautiful gardens cultivated such a sense of calmness and peace.
Mum loved sitting in her garden at home and hadn’t been able to do this for a while. While she was in the hospice, she was mostly nursed in bed, but loved listening to secret garden, with the patio doors open.
One day she closed her eyes and asked us to talk about mundane, normal things like what we wanted for dinner.
Some years earlier she had shared a memory about her own Mum, dying of cancer and needing to take a moment to treasure the mundanity of ‘normal’ life, in an otherwise unrelenting time of anguish. I could see what these moments of normality and peace meant to my Mum.
I am so grateful that she was able to have the control to take this moment for herself. I hold those memories dear, eleven years on.
After a week at the hospice...
my Mum’s symptoms were controlled enough for her to go home and have the death that she wanted, in her own home and surrounded by people who loved her so very much. We were, and are, incredibly thankful and donated funeral collections to Myton, taking part in the sponsored walk later that year, as a small expression of our appreciation.
During my Mum’s illness I stepped off my nursing degree to be with her. As a family, we pulled together to care for my Mum, and make memories.
Although I treasure that time, I was sad that she would never see me in my blue uniform, alongside the many other things she would miss. I knew that I needed to keep going for her. She always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I wanted to care for people with the same compassion, and fire, I had seen my Mum bestow on everyone around her, from her children and grandchildren to her role as a care manager which she did so passionately, for many years.
I finished my training in 2010...
and began my career as a registered nurse. I had always wanted to be a palliative care nurse but struggled with the emotions attached to palliative care after losing Mum. After working in the acute sector for a few years, I went on to do my public health nurse training and became a health visitor working with women and children. I loved my job, but missed nursing on wards and working with the elderly, but accepted that I would probably never return to clinical nursing.
At the start of the pandemic in 2020...
my manager asked for nurses to volunteer to redeploy to Warwick Myton Hospice to care for patients with Coronavirus. Myton had temporarily handed over the space to South Warwickshire Foundation Trust to help with the response to Covid. The idea of redeploying was both terrifying and exhilarating, in equal measure. The proposed date was 26th May, which was the day my Mum died. I felt like it was where I was meant to be. I hit reply with the haste I needed not to overthink, and it was the best decision I have ever made. It is still a truly special place. The people I worked with were also so very special and many of us had personal experiences with Myton, and bonded over this.
When I entered room ten, where Mum was, I expected to feel sad, but felt such a sense of inner peace, calm and warmth.
Working at Myton was the most amazing, emotional, and healing experience.
I have since had my first tattoo, dedicated to the memory of my beautiful Mum, with the Myton hospice butterfly.
I will always feel so privileged, comforted and fulfilled to have been given this opportunity and Myton will always have a special place in my heart.
Take a look at Kate and Maxine's photo gallery below...
is the daily upkeep cost of our relatives accommodation
could fund two hours of specialist nursing care
could fund three children's counselling sessions
covers the cost of a patient's meal for one week
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 three children's counselling sessions
Your donation covers the cost of a patient's meal for one week
Every donation helps us to provide quality end of life care