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"From the moment we walked into St Clare’s it was just like every single thing you could possibly worry about was taken away. It’s such a wonderful place – we are so lucky to have a place like St Clare’s. I hope if just one person reads my story and it encourages them to trust in St Clare’s – then it is worthwhile. Our life would have been so different without the help of St Clare’s and I believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience their amazing care.”
An older couple stand with their arms around each other in front of a summer mountain range

Everybody loved my husband Brian. He was just such a lovely, funny and caring man – who loved life. We had the most wonderful 30 years together. People say when you get diagnosed with a terminal illness ‘make the most of each day’ – but we always did! I haven’t got any regrets because we did some wonderful things, visited beautiful places in the world, and enjoyed every day. I miss him every second of every day but I am just so glad in my heart that he came to St Clare’s.”

““It was back in September 2014 when we received the news from Brian’s consultant that he had terminal liver cancer. I will never forget that walk down the hospital corridor to the Oncology department. It’s a walk which hundreds and thousands of other people must have done before but it is just so awful. Brian’s consultant said the cancer was very advanced and that there was nothing they could do. Brian had a very rare condition and was told he had around a year to live – it was just so unlucky.”

It was at that moment that I knew I needed support for both of us – so I got in touch with St Clare’s. I felt like I needed support behind me, as Brian’s main carer – I didn’t know what was going to happen and when, and I was trying to act like everything was alright. I knew it was too much responsibility for me to face on my own.”

“Through our local GP’s surgery we were put in touch with Louise, one of St Clare’s Clinical Nurse Specialists, and as soon as she came to our home Brian and Louise hit it off straight away. She was just so lovely – and Brian actually looked forward to her coming! Louise always knew what to say and could really make Brian laugh.”

“Louise would come to our house for home visits and would phone regularly to check how we both were. At first we didn’t need a lot of support and Louise was never intrusive. But if you wanted her – she was always there. She never, ever let us down. When it got a bit further along in Brian’s journey and he was having bad symptoms, Louise would always advise the best medication for him. If Louise said she would do something, she always did it – and that is so important when you are going through what we were going through. I always knew that if I needed her – she would be there. And that means such a lot.”

“At first we jogged along ok and enjoyed life – Brian still looked like his normal, healthy self and we were able to enjoy the holidays we had booked together with our friends. Gradually Brian’s symptoms escalated but he never complained about anything. It came as a shock then, when in February 2016 he took a sudden turn for the worse.”

“I immediately phoned Louise and she came round very early in the morning to see us. It was then that Louise asked Brian if he would like her to see if there was a room available at St Clare’s for him – and he said ‘yes’. Luckily there was a room ready for him.”

“Brian arrived at St Clare’s that afternoon and from the second we arrived everyone was just so wonderful. Not only to Brian, but to the whole family as well. From the moment we walked in to St Clare’s it was like every single thing you could possibly worry about was taken away.”

“Brian and I had so much more quality time together by being at St Clare’s – I could just be Brian’s wife and not worry about making dinner, or whether there was milk in for visitors, or helping him to wash. It is such a relief to know that the person you love is getting the right care – it takes that responsibility away from you – worrying if you are doing the right thing, or if anything more can be done to help.”

“In those few days we had such a lot of people come in to see Brian – and they were all taken care of. On our last evening together it was just Brian, myself and my two daughters together in the room. The nurses came in and made sure Brian was not in any pain and then they left us together so peacefully. The care was so wonderful, and the whole atmosphere. The chaplain was lovely, and the doctor – I just always hope I can give back a tiny bit to St Clare’s.”

“Brian passed away peacefully on the evening of 2 March 2016 at St Clare Hospice.”

“It was my greatest wish to have a gold leaf for Brian up on the Memory Tree at St Clare’s. I didn’t want flowers and things that wouldn’t last – I wanted something permanent. The Memory Tree leaf is a lovely thing to have for my grandchildren as well. I’ve brought them to St Clare’s to see his leaf on the tree and to show them the wonderful place and the people who took care of their granddad.”

“Even now I feel I could go back to St Clare’s to visit at any time. When we went to see the leaf on the Memory Tree with my granddaughters we saw Louise again and she gave me such a big hug. We saw the chaplain as well, and one of the nurses offered us all a cup of tea or a drink. I feel I could visit at any time and just sit quietly in the Sanctuary – it’s a very, very special place.”

“I know that eventually I will do something voluntarily for St Clare’s – perhaps as a receptionist on the front desk. I just want to be able to give something back. I feel we are just so, so lucky to have a place like St Clare’s and I hope I can end my days somewhere as lovely as that.”

– Anne

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