When Shelly’s mum, Lyn, was first diagnosed with cancer of the lung her family were informed that there was no chance of recovery but Shelly never gave up hope and stayed by Lyn’s side until the very end:
“My mum was the sort of person who never took ill, so when she told me she’d been coughing up blood and was going to see a doctor I just wasn’t expecting it. When we found out mum had lung cancer and that nothing could be done – it all felt like a bad dream and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Mum, being a practical person, took it in her stride (as she always did) and agreed to take a course of trial radiotherapy in the hope that she might be able to help others diagnosed with cancer. Incredibly, after twelve days of intense radiotherapy the cancer was gone and we were able to go back to living a ‘normal’ life for a time.
Just over a year later, I started to notice signs that mum wasn’t right as she’d started to forget things and her handwriting was deteriorating. I hoped that it wasn’t a sign of anything serious but it wasn’t to be - the cancer had come back and this time it was in her brain.”
Lyn then underwent another course of radiotherapy which helped to reduce the spread of cancer enough so that she could go to her younger son’s wedding in Australia which meant so much to her. On her return, Lyn’s condition rapidly declined and it was at this point that Shelly and her husband Paul decided to move their whole family in with Lyn to look after her.
“It was a tough time, Paul and I were on duty around the clock helping mum with everyday tasks like washing, dressing and so on. I was very protective of her so when the GP suggested we get in touch with the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home nurses I was initially unsure.
My fears were put to rest right from our very first meeting with our nurses Raelene and Heather. They were so helpful and put us at our ease talking through every aspect of mum’s care so that everyone understood what was happening. It was refreshing to be included in mum’s care as up until this point we had felt like bystanders. If I didn’t understand anything like mum’s medications for example, Raelene or one of the other nurses would take the time to explain it to me.
The nurses were our absolute rocks and we trusted them completely. They came to feel like part of our family and mum grew to love Raelene and Heather very much. I remember one night at about 1am I was worried about my mum and didn’t know what to do so I called the nursing line and a nurse came out to help us without question. I felt guilty about calling them out but I’m glad they were there for me, it was so reassuring to know that there were always there for us no matter what time it was.”
As Lyn’s health deteriorated she became unable to leave her bed and so her family and the nursing team overseeing her care sought to keep her as comfortable and as pain-free as possible. In order to do this a syringe pump was used to slowly inject medication in measured doses throughout the day.
“Those last few weeks were the toughest days of my life and when the nurses suggested that we use a syringe pump to help keep mum comfortable I didn’t want to believe that we had reached the point where it was our last option. Mum was adamant that she didn’t want to go into a hospice and so once we realised that the syringe pump would help keep her at home we agreed to use it.
About a week later we were washing mum as part of her daily morning routine. We raised her arms in the air to change her and it was at that point that she passed away. Even though she was very ill it was so hard to take in the fact that she had gone but I’m glad she could die at home with her family which was exactly where she wanted to be. Heather and Raelene didn’t stop looking out for us after mum had died and helped make all the arrangements. Raelene came to the funeral and I’m still in touch with her today. We can never thank them enough for how they helped our family and Paul and I have supported Iain Rennie any way we can ever since.”
Shelly is supporting our 'Power a syringe pump' appeal - read more
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