Helen Lofts was an outgoing, cheerful, courageous and kind young woman who sadly died, age 31, on 2nd January 2019 after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March 2018.
It was Helen’s dream to visit Disneyland once more, which was the place her husband had proposed to her. She was completely mad for anything Disney related. Jane Lofts, Helen’s mum, has chosen to share some of Helen’s story with us.
Jane said, “Helen was visited weekly by the St Barnabas Hospice at Home nurses, who were just so lovely. A physio also came out to see her and was able to sort her out with equipment, even when plans changed slightly after she got married.
“I can’t thank the physio enough for what she did for Helen. There was one point where Helen was just so desperate for a bath and the physio arranged for her to get to the St Barnabas Inpatient Unit and have a nice bath there. I can remember how happy this made Helen, and I’m so grateful that St Barnabas was able to help her in this way.”
Helen and her husband, Chris, got married in May 2018, but had to put their honeymoon on hold whilst she was undergoing chemotherapy. Once they learned the cancer was incurable, a friend decided to start a crowdfunder to raise enough money to send their family to Disneyland one last time. This raised an incredible £6,020.
Jane said, “The St Barnabas nurses gave Helen the confidence in her ability to be able to go to Disneyland when she was so poorly. Helen refused to let her cancer stop her living life to the full and she had the most amazing time on her last holiday. She was able to go on a few rides and got loads of pictures, including with Ariel, her favourite princess and Peter Pan, which is her favourite film.
“She got back from the holiday on Christmas Eve and started feeling a lot more tired, to the point where she spent a few days just sleeping. A week later, she had a seizure and then died a few days after that.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child, but I’m holding on to such special memories of Helen. She was always the life and soul of the party and so much fun to be around. We asked people to come to her funeral dressed in Disney clothes, which I know she’d have loved.”
When Helen was alive, she decided to blog her experiences of cancer to raise more awareness. In one of her posts, Helen wrote, “St Barnabas has become very involved with me. It makes me grateful for all the charity work I’ve done for them in the past, even though I never did it thinking that one day it would be me they were helping.”
Jane said, “On behalf of our family, I’d like to say a huge thank you to St Barnabas. They played a huge part in helping Helen to make the most out of the life she had left, and I’ll never forget how they supported her to achieve her final wish before she died.”
A group of Lincoln ladies are taking part in this year’s Moonlight Walk Stamford on Saturday 14th September in memory of their best friend, Alison Shipley.
The ladies, Claire Shephard, Viv Whitehead, Linda Beat, Sue Toon, Jo Ely, and Ellen Chapman, are hoping to raise over £1,500 in memory of Alison who sadly died in the St Barnabas Inpatient Unit in July 2019. Alison was diagnosed with terminal advanced aggressive ovarian cancer.
Claire said, “Alison was an amazing friend and auntie to my two boys. The nurses at St Barnabas got to know her and understood how important her animals were to her. They arranged for Alison to see her horse and dogs one last time. At this stage, Alison was very poorly, but she was so strongly driven towards seeing her animals that she made it happen. One of the nurses, Annie Penrice, had worked for many years on a ranch in Texas, so she knew how important the bond is between and horse and their owner.”
Annie added, “Alison absolutely lit up when she saw her horse. As soon as the horse recognised her, it dropped its head and started nuzzling her. It was a very inspiring but emotional visit for us all.”
Claire said, “The trip really meant the world to Alison and her close family and friends. It was emotional, but it gave her one last chance to cuddle and love her horse and dogs one last time. The trip was on a Wednesday, and Alison died peacefully the following Sunday.
“I will always be truly grateful to St Barnabas for arranging this for us as it helped Alison so much towards the end. This is why we have chosen to take part in the Moonlight Walk Stamford. We want to give a little something back to the Hospice who did so much for us.
“I’m hoping to bring Alison’s dog, Choco, with me to take part in the Moonlight Walk. It’s going to be an emotional night, but we will share memories of Alison as we walk the route. I’m sure she will be smiling down at us all.”
You can still sign up for this year’s Moonlight Walk Stamford until Sunday 8th September. Tickets are available from www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/moonlight-walk-stamford-2019 at £20 for adults and £10 for children age 11+.
Tracy Tuffs has worked in the St Barnabas Hospice Wellbeing team since 2015 and has worked her way up from Family Support Services Administrator to Counselling Service Team Lead.
As it is #GriefAwarenessDay, Tracy has decided to share an insight into how she supports patients and their families at one of the most difficult times of their lives, as well as how she had to turn to St Barnabas for support herself after her dad sadly died in the care of the Hospice.
Tracy said, “In my role, I support 35 volunteer counsellors and 12 supportive listeners, without whom we would be unable to provide this service to people in the community. We are also starting to develop a service to deliver bereavement support to children and young people, which I’m really excited about.
“My world was rocked in 2016 when my dad was diagnosed with cancer age 65. It was such a shock as he still had so much he wanted to achieve in his life. When I initially suggested him coming to the Hospice, he was scared that it would mean admitting that there was no future. However, he did use the Hospice services for two years and said it was the best decision he made. It enabled us all to prepare and live life to the fullest for the time he had left. We made some lovely memories which will stay with me always. The support I received from my colleagues at St Barnabas was amazing as they look after people in my situation all the time.
“I love everything about my job and feel very humbled and privileged to be able to talk to people and share their stories to help them find some peace. Working for St Barnabas is more than a job. It’s a vocation and a passion, and everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I have some very good friends and have been fortunate enough to have been encouraged to grow and develop as a person and within my career.”
St Barnabas provides bereavement support to anyone, whether their loved one has been cared for by our Hospice or not. People can access bereavement and counselling services at all stages of a diagnosis, either through individual or group support. To find out about the support on offer, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/bereavement or call 0300 020 0694.
Debbie Wren has signed up to the 280-mile Euro City Cycle Challenge in support of St Barnabas Hospice after her mum sadly died of a stem stroke and heart failure in our Grantham Hospice in the Hospital, age 87.
Debbie said, “My mum, Celia Mabel Moss, was an amazing woman who accomplished so much in her life. She will always be my guiding light and my inspiration. Her first love was gardening, nature and wildlife – a passion that never went until the day she died. Because Mum was in the Hospice in Spring, I was able to bring her bunches of daffodils from the garden which I know she loved.
“When Mum had her stroke, she was only able to communicate by blinking her right eye. The nurses just knew how to look after someone who was unable to talk, swallow or move, and I didn’t have to worry that she was left on her own in distress. They made sure she was clean and comfortable at all times and chatted to her like a human being.
“The care you provided to allow Mum to die with comfort, care and dignity was second to none. I personally could not have faced this on my own and I really am so full of admiration for both the nurses who provided the care and for St Barnabas as a whole, for offering the service to everyone in need. Although it has been two years since Mum died, I still struggle each day with an incredible sense of loss. It simply has not got any easier. I will never forget the care you provided.
“Mum was always known for her generous and kind nature, so I know she’d approve of my fundraising for the Hospice. I have a real desire to support a charity that is there for anyone who may need their help. Four days out of my life doing this ride is little in comparison to the fantastic work people do each and every day at St Barnabas.
“The Euro City Cycle Challenge will see me cycle 280 miles across three countries. I work for the Royal Bank of Scotland, who have kindly matched £250 of my fundraising, as well as allowing me to take volunteering leave to complete the ride. So far, I have raised £1,800 and I can’t wait to do more fundraising for St Barnabas in the future.
“I know I will never forget the way that the Hospice looked after my mum. This challenge is for everyone at St Barnabas.”
St Barnabas Hospice is currently looking for people to take part in their Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge. If you’re inspired by Debbie’s story, why not sign up and do something amazing to raise money for end-of-life care in Lincolnshire. To view more information and sign up, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/yorkshire-three-peaks.
Jackie Fisher was diagnosed out of the blue with brain cancer in June 2018. After receiving care both at home and in our Hospice, she sadly died in November 2018, age 67.
Jackie’s grandchildren, Dylan and Anna, have raised around £1,250 for St Barnabas through running the Colour Dash and organising a variety of their own fundraising events. Jackie’s daughter, Helen, has chosen to share her hospice care story and talk about the fundraising the family has done since.
“Mum received fantastic care both at home and in the Hospice. We will never forget the care and dignity she received, nor the support given to our family during such a horrendous time. We will always support the Hospice and are proud that the children really do understand the importance of places like St Barnabas.
“Dylan, my son, and Anna, my niece, both spent time at the Hospice with their granny. They were able to read to her, paint her nails and talk to her. They, along with my younger sons aged four and one, were always so welcomed by the staff. This gave us valuable time as a family to be together. As ill as Mum was, she always knew when they were there.
“The children understand that sometimes people are too poorly to recover, and that’s when places like St Barnabas are so important. Being able to have some normality, such as Anna sitting and painting Mum’s nails, softened the harsh reality of how poorly she was for the children.
“Those are the things they will remember. They were able to see the wonderful care Granny received and were always comfortable visiting as it is such a relaxed environment.
“Although our lives have been turned upside down and our loss is so enormous, we really are so grateful to St Barnabas for everything that was done for Mum. I just don’t know how we would have coped without the Hospice.
“The children felt they wanted to give something back to the Hospice after the care their granny received, which is why they decided to do so many fundraising events.
“Back in December, Dylan held a Christmas tombola, raising around £170. Dylan and Anna have also held an Easter event which raised £500. This event was just on our driveway in Woodhall Spa, where they did a raffle, hook-a-duck, lucky dip and cake stall. There are already plans in place for next year’s Easter fundraiser!
“We are so proud of what they are doing for St Barnabas Hospice and as a family we’d like to thank everyone involved in the care and support of both Mum and our family.”
St Barnabas Hospice provides free care to people across Lincolnshire living with a life-limiting or terminal illness and their families and carers. To find out more about the different ways we can help, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for buying St Barnabas raffle tickets each year. The money raised will help people like me attend regular coffee mornings to help relieve anxiety at such a difficult time.”
“When Helen and I started going to the coffee mornings there was an immediate, fantastic bond between everyone. There are two therapy dogs that come in every Tuesday and put a huge smile on people’s faces. They’re so friendly and people-orientated. I still come back to the coffee mornings now that Helen is gone because I enjoy the company so much and I think I can possibly give something back to the Hospice.
“My beautiful wife, Helen, was diagnosed in 2014 with stage four lung cancer which had spread to her neck, collarbone and both lungs. She was treated with chemotherapy for four years until last summer when she asked if she could stop the treatment. She had just had enough. Immediately Helen got a quality of life back but the cancer spread to her brain in January 2019 and she died very quickly after that at the St Barnabas Inpatient Unit in Lincoln.
“There are not enough words to describe the care; it was phenomenal during the four-and-a-half weeks Helen was in the Hospice. It wasn’t just care for her; it was care for me, for the whole family and for our friends who came up.
“The staff at the Hospice were just brilliant; not just the nurses and doctors but also the volunteers, the cooks, everybody. The first thing they got us was a blue badge. Such a small thing really made all the difference because Helen couldn’t walk very well, one of her lungs had collapsed and she had no breath.
“A special memory to me was on my birthday, three days before Helen died. Helen was quite agitated during a visit and my daughter and I completely broke down to the nurses as we left. Every single nurse came out and we had a group hug for about ten minutes. Everybody was so genuine about it and that was just so moving. I’ll always remember it.
“Helen and I were married for 42 years and she taught me three big things in life. She taught me generosity, she taught me kindness and she taught me how to have fun. Six months ago she said to me “I don’t mind if I die, we’ve had such a brilliant life.” She was great and I’m going to miss her like crazy. I do miss her like crazy.
“If I could spend one more day with my beautiful wife, I think I’d just stay sat down with her, hold her hand and just look into her eyes.”
If you would like to purchase some raffle tickets to help more families like Alan and Helen, please call our Lottery office on 01522 546 500. Tickets are £1 each or £20 for a book, and the first prize is an incredible £3,000.
From September 27th until October 7th, Eddie Suich will be taking on the incredible challenge of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro!
Eddie is climbing in support of St Barnabas because we are currently caring for his Dad who has been diagnosed with Dementia.
Here is Eddie’s story:
“My Dad means a great deal to me and has played a huge part in my upbringing and shaping me to the person I am trying to be today. A kind, funny, hard-working and family-orientated man who has always had other people’s well-being above his own whether this has been his family or his customers and colleagues at work.
These are just a few of the aspects I feel I have learnt and try to demonstrate in life from him. And on a lesser note I also have him to thank for the daily frustrations of being an Arsenal fan.
Having survived a heart attack a number of years ago, my Dad and our family had the extremely difficult news around 4.5 years ago that he was suffering from dementia at the young age of just 63 years old. He had initially been suffering from amnesia for a few years before this at just 60 years old.
A few years on and my Dad’s memory worsens and he is more reliant on my Mum and those of us around him unable to truly enjoy his retirement in what should be his best years of freedom and life. Seeing this disease first-hand has been heart-breaking and extremely difficult for our family and friends to adapt to, especially losing the ability to confide and communicate fully with the person who truly inspires me and means the most to me in my life.
In short, it is a cruel and unfair disease I wouldn’t wish upon anybody but certainly not somebody as good-hearted and genuine as my Dad.
My Dad has always been a hugely positive impact on me – probably a lot more so than he understands. This whole situation has truly made me realise that you never know what is around the corner and you have to make the most of the time you are given, just like my Dad certainly has and continues to do so with the support of my Mum.
Personally, I have always wanted to embrace challenges and hiking Kilimanjaro has been on the bucket list as I know it will be a really physical challenge for me. However, if I can do this and raise some money alongside it for a local charity’s dementia arm that helps people like my Dad and their families in Lincolnshire through these difficult times then that will push me that extra step for sure.
Whilst this horrible disease is truly devastating at times I want to ensure the positive side of this story remains to be seen – my Dad has a huge legacy behind him and has truly made the most of every day he has had through his job, his family and his love for football, travel and challenges. Maybe I wouldn’t be crazy enough to commit to these sort of things without the upbringing and positive pushing he has given me! Any support to help the dementia arm of the St Barnabas Hospice in Lincolnshire would mean a huge amount to people like my Dad and family so any donations would be greatly appreciated. I guess then I need to actually conquer a mountain!”
Support Eddie’s Mount Kilimanjaro hike here:www.justgiving.com/fundraising/eddie-suich-kilimanjaro
Jane Montague, Director of Majestic Publications, is raising money for St Barnabas when she runs the Hospice’s Mighty Mudder mud run, which takes place on Sunday 22nd September at Ancaster Leisure near Grantham.
Jane and her son Ben are running in memory of her Dad and in support of hospice care.
Jane has been a supporter of the hospice movement for over twenty years. She is the director of Majestic Publications, an organisation that provides free publications for hospices and charities nationwide.
“Hospices are the most special of places. The reason that we started Majestic Publications was because my darling Dad, Bob Manifold, died after a short battle with a cancerous brain tumour in December 1997 at the age of 59. He had been a fit and healthy man and the life and soul of any gathering.
His loss completely devastated us as a family but we were buoyed up and supported by our local hospice in Chester who were amazing. The pain that comes from losing someone you love can never be diminished but our local hospice helped us to feel that we weren’t on our own.”
In addition, Jane takes on incredible challenges to show her support to the Hospices that Majestic Publications supply to.
“As soon as someone says that there’s no way I could undertake something, I go out of my way to prove them wrong. This has resulted in me running about six 10ks, a sprint triathlon, Morecombe Bay Walk, flying through the air on the longest zip wire in Europe, taking part in the Dragon Boat Race (last year dressed as a chicken!), abseiling down the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and even the challenge of giving up alcohol for a month!
“I am by no means an athlete but it’s amazing what a bit of determination can achieve.”
Jane’s next challenge will be the Mighty Mudder: a new addition to the St Barnabas events calendar featuring a 5K route at Ancaster Leisure including over 50 muddy obstacles.
Jane said: “Something that was instilled in me when I was growing up was that you always need to give back. In turn this is something that I’ve tried to bring my son, Ben, up to understand and carry through.”
“We’re also looking forward to a bit of quality mother and son time, although I think Ben is hoping that I’ll be so out of breath that it will stop me nagging him about tidying his room!”
New for this event, St Barnabas has decided to offer two different types of tickets. Participants wanting to raise money for the Hospice will be able to pay a lower registration fee of £25, providing they pledge a minimum sponsorship of £50. Alternatively, participants can pay a £55 registration fee if they decide not to raise sponsorship money. These are early bird prices and will be available for a limited time until Sunday 28th July.
Children aged 14-17 can also take part for a flat rate of £10 and are encouraged to raise as much money as they are able. The Hospice does ask that there is one adult per two children when signing up.
Early bird tickets are now on sale for this exciting new event. To sign up or view more information, visit the event page.
On 11th September 2018, Hilary Horn from Holbeach was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Three weeks later she was told it was terminal and she sadly died on 9th November 2018, age 62.
Hilary’s daughter, Alison, has chosen to share her memories of the time Hilary spent in our care. Alison said:
“Mum was in Boston Pilgrim Hospital but decided in the October that she wanted to come home to be with my dad for a few days, before choosing Holbeach Hospital as the place she wished to die. However, after a few days at home we realised we could manage with the help of St Barnabas Hospice.
“Nurses from St Barnabas came to the house daily to change Mum’s clothes, sheets and also look after Dad. My life changed that winter, you became our angels. “I had never heard of St Barnabas before but I now support them as my chosen charity.”
Hilary was able to spend three-and-a-half weeks at home with her family and every day St Barnabas nurses were able to come in and help ease the pressure. Because of St Barnabas, Hilary was also able to die peacefully in her own home. Alison said:
“I have so many memories of the nurses who came. There were endless cups of tea and their presence meant we could leave the house briefly, knowing Mum was in safe hands. I remember asking questions that could only be answered with a hug and another cuppa. The help we received meant so much to our family.”
St Barnabas Hospice provides free care to people across Lincolnshire living with a life-limiting or terminal illness and their families and carers. To find out more about the different ways we can help, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk
St Barnabas Hospice is welcoming dog walkers to this year’s Moonlight Walk Stamford in September.
Taking place on Saturday 14th September, the second Moonlight Walk Stamford hosted by St Barnabas Hospice is welcoming both humans and dogs to walk in memory of loved ones. The Moonlight Walk Stamford will begin at Borderville Sports Centre, with doors opening to the public at 7.30pm.
Reggie the Cockerpoo took part in the Moonlight Walk Lincoln earlier this year with his owner, Debbie, who he really helped through a difficult time. Debbie’s husband, Richard Braunton, was diagnosed with stage four Frontal Lobe Glioblastoma in January 2017 and sadly died in March 2018, age 49. Debbie said:
“We initially thought St Barnabas was just somewhere you go to die. Little did we know what amazing support, care and activities they offer to both patients and their families and carers.
“Whilst he was able, Rich went to do Tai Chi at the Lincoln Day Therapy Centre. Although sometimes he struggled, we still managed to get him there just to chat to someone outside of family and friends. We also had lunches there with family which was lovely.
“As Rich became more poorly, he was admitted for respite care to the Hospice, where he was so well looked after.”
Debbie also received a lot of free support from St Barnabas, both during and after Richard’s illness. Debbie said:
“I was given a course of reflexology as a way to relax. This was lovely and a great way to unwind for an hour to myself.
“After Rich died, I decided, in the end, to go to the counselling group which was really beneficial. Overall, St Barnabas staff and volunteers were truly supportive for me and our family at such a difficult time.”
“St Barnabas offers such varied support and is a sanctuary to go to talk and show emotions which I didn’t want to show my family as I felt I had to be strong for them.
“Although they have volunteers, they are a charity and as such, need money to continue to offer support to other families in similar circumstances to my own.
“In life, we never know what lies ahead of us and we never think that tragedy could strike so early. To know that St Barnabas is there to be our backbone in these circumstances is a massive thing and I would urge everyone to support the Hospice. I never imagined I would be in this position.”
Louise Cotton, Events Fundraiser for St Barnabas Hospice, said:
“Debbie’s story has moved us all at St Barnabas and it’s lovely to know that Reggie was able to help her through such a difficult time. We look forward to meeting lots of dogs like Reggie at this year’s Moonlight Walk Stamford, but there are a couple of rules.
“Please make sure dogs are kept on non-retractable leads, they must be friendly and sociable with people and with other dogs.”
It’s not too late to sign up to this year’s Moonlight Walk Stamford. People aged 11+ can sign up at www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/moonlight-walk-stamford-2019. If you sign up before Sunday 21st July, you will also be able to take advantage of the early bird prices!