Patient story

Malcolm’s Story – Family is one of life’s greatest gifts

This Christmas we are sharing Malcolm’s story, who was cared for on our Ward. His wife, Jacqui, was kind enough to share his story and experience of care at St Wilfrid’s as part of our Christmas Appeal this year.

You could help us to continue giving excellent and tailored care to patients and their loved ones and help to create treasured memories. We would greatly appreciate any donation, big or small, so we can continue to help families, like Malcolm’s this Christmas.

We dream together, laugh together and are always there for one another. Nothing is more important than family, it is one of life’s greatest gifts.

St Wilfrid’s Hospice became our extended family when my husband, Malcolm, was staying on their Ward, because when someone has cancer the whole family are affected. In Malcolm’s own words:

“All of you treat me like my family is your family, and that is marvellous”.

Malcolm was in the RAF, he joined as an Air Cadet and eventually made his way up to an Air Traffic Controller. He continued his commitment long after his retirement and regularly attended Veteran’s Breakfast Clubs and meetings. It was, in fact, at RAF Drayton when we met and the following year on the 14th July 1979 we were married. This was the start of our family life together with our wonderful daughters, gorgeous grandchildren and as a ‘second Mum and Dad’ to several children we cared for over the years.

Sadly, in 2021 Malcolm was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Prostate Cancer, and we were told it was management rather than a cure.

We had to pull together as a family when Malcolm became ill and I am very proud of all the girls, because that’s what we did.

We pulled together and we were there for one another. In fact, one of my granddaughters, Keira, helped care for Malcolm when he was home. She actually won the V2 Radio Artius Care Award. Malcolm’s condition worsened after the chemotherapy stopped working, and although for a few months he tried to continue as normal, both the cancer and the treatment depleted his energy levels.

We were starting to become concerned for Malcolm’s welfare and how we might manage his care. After a turbulent stay at hospital, Malcolm was eventually referred to St Wilfrid’s Hospice. We went to visit him shortly after he had arrived at the Hospice; the moment we walked through those doors, we instantly felt relieved – even before we’d seen Malcolm. We thought “Wow, this is like walking in to a five-star hotel!”.

It was calm. All the staff, from the receptionists to the cleaners, greeted us with such politeness and respect. We were shown into his room with the lovely outlook onto the garden. I came home and I felt so relaxed and relieved. That night I went to bed and I slept, because I didn’t have the worry of wondering at 3am if he is still going to be in pain.

Not only do St Wilfrid’s incredible staff give patients and their families personalised care and support, but they know how important it is to help families secure and capture those important moments and memories.

The staff at St Wilfrid’s Hospice made it possible for our daughter, Deborah, who had qualified as a nurse, to hold an early graduation ceremony at the Hospice. They sent the Hospice’s own resident photographer along to capture such a special and memorable moment with her father, myself and her daughter.

The care and thoughtfulness didn’t stop there. Sam, one of Malcolm’s nursing team, found out about Malcolm’s love of aeroplanes and arranged for Malcolm and all our family to have a trip out to Goodwood Aerodrome.

The amazing thing about the Hospice is that people who are living with a life limiting illness, have the experience of being able to enjoy those things that they never thought was possible.

Somehow, the wonderful people at the Hospice are very tuned in and their brain cells are working overtime to see how they can pull it together to make something special for the individual. The trip was an opportunity to capture some great photos of us all together as a complete family, having so much fun. It was an experience that we will never forget.

Sadly, it was to be Malcolm’s last trip out as he died at home soon after, surrounded by us, his loving family.

The moment that his heart stopped, he had all four of his daughters and myself with him, holding his hands. Christmas for us was always family time and we will miss Malcolm dearly during our first Christmas without him. There would be 12 sitting down to Christmas dinner and our house would be a hub of activity and conversation, with dressing up and quizzes, all the way through to boxing day and beyond. It’s those memories that will keep living as stories to tell in the years to come.

l hope this Christmas people will open their hearts and give the gift of giving, because the care at St Wilfrid’s goes far beyond Christmas, and nothing can take place of cherished memories, love, care and support in these tough times.

As Malcolm has taught us, never give up and keep battling through till the very end, be kind to one another and keep smiling.”

We are able to support families, like Malcolm’s, thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters across our local community. This Christmas, you’re donation could gift a memory for a family and help make their festive season, a bit more special.

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