Terry Wright, aged 68, from Lincoln called St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice to help care for his wife Christine, aged 64, during her final twenty four hours.
After forty-six years of marriage, Terry and his wife Christine had shared many special moments together. They had two beautiful daughters and doted on their five grandchildren. In 2008 Terry noticed a sudden change in Christine’s behaviour, although not realising it at the time, this would be the beginning of a four year battle.
Terry said: “You just know when something’s not quite right and that’s when Christine confided in me that she thought she had breast cancer after finding a lump in her breast. Her Mother herself had died from the disease and this was the catalyst for Christine refusing to seek medical intervention, instead vowing to battle the cancer herself.
“I didn’t necessarily agree with her decision but at the end of the day it was her decision to make. Christine hadn’t been to see a doctor in almost twenty years and she was adamant that she wasn’t about to start. Along with the rest of the family I vowed to support her in any way we could, every step of the way.”
For the first two years Christine managed her symptoms well and continued to live a good quality of life with little disruption to her daily routine.
Terry said: “By 2010 Christine’s condition and symptoms were beginning to worsen. She was losing weight which was affecting her ability to get about and she would often be left weak and listless. It was heart-breaking to climb into bed with the woman you love each night and watch her disappearing before your eyes as she slowly became nothing but skin and bone. With Christine refusing all outside help it was left to me and the family to care for her at home in the best way we could.
“By now she was becoming so weak that she could no longer get up without my help. Surprisingly in all this time she never complained once and the only medication she took was paracetamol and Rennies. If she was in any pain she certainly never showed it.”
By December 2012 Christine was housebound and the cancer had broken through her skin leaving her with an open wound. Realising that they could no longer cope alone Terry called St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice for help.
Terry said: “Two nurses arrived shortly after my phone call and immediately set about washing and changing Christine and making her as comfortable as possible. As soon as they arrived I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, just knowing that somebody was there to help was a huge relief. Christine was extremely poorly and I knew in my heart that we didn’t have long left together.
“The nurses returned later that day to ensure Christine was still comfortable and to reassure me that they were at the end of a phone if I needed them. Later that evening I climbed into bed with Christine for what would be the final time. She told me how she felt like she was letting everyone down, which of course I immediately refuted. Sadly those would be the last words I would ever hear Christine say, as she passed away a few short hours later.
“I know that Christine only received care from St Barnabas for one day but they really did make such a difference in her final hours, and two years on, they are still making a difference to me. The wonderful hospice at home nurses have been in regular contact and even send a card on the anniversary of Christine’s passing.”
Terry and his family are now active supporters of St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice and are heavily involved in many of the charity’s annual fundraisers.
Terry said: “The whole family has thrown themselves into fundraising for St Barnabas and we just want to raise as much money as possible and give something back to such a deserving organisation. What I like about St Barnabas is that the care is there when you need it the most and the people are so genuine.
Terry concludes: “It’s the small things that make the biggest difference, like they take the time to remember your name; it’s that level of personal care that really matters. Before Christine’s passing I didn’t know a single person at the charity but they have welcomed me with open arms. You never have to feel like you are alone; it’s just like being a part of one big family.”