Janet’s story

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"St Clare made my husband Nodge’s life bearable and it was a great relief knowing they were there for him, which is why he decided to leave a generous gift in his Will to the Hospice."
A lady holding a cat and smiling

“Like me, Nodge was a teacher. He also worked as a journalist on the local paper, the Harlow Citizen, before working at the Playhouse Harlow first as stage carpenter, then as technical manager. Finally, he made replicas of historic artefacts for museums in bronze, silver and wood. As a Roman re-enactor, he took great pleasure in talking to adults and children about life in Roman Briton.”

st-clare-hospice-nodge-roman-enactor“Nodge was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009, and in 2010 underwent a major operation. He was treated by the Royal Free and UCL hospitals and took part in various drug trials to see if they could help with the progress of the disease. Normally people with liver cancer don’t have more than a few months, but the treatments stayed it for a while and gave Nodge four more years.”

“Eventually though, in 2013, the tumours started to grow again and we were told there was nothing else that could be done. He was not suitable for further drug trials and the only drug he was offered made him so ill and was ‘turning him into a vegetable’. He decided that he would opt for a better quality of life and take his chances on longevity. It was at this point that the oncology team at the Royal Free recommended Nodge come to St Clare for help. They made the initial contact and then we visited St Clare.”

“Nodge was offered the chance to attend Day Therapy. Like a lot of people though, at first he didn’t want to go, but within a few sessions it became a lifeline for him. He got on well with the other patients in the group, maybe because they all had a life-limiting illness in common. I think he enjoyed talking to a variety of people and it helped him to feel less isolated.”

“He got on really well with the staff and I suspect that he talked to them about things he felt he could not talk to me about. He never mentioned to me that his illness was terminal although obviously he knew it was. He came back from his day therapy sessions in a more relaxed frame of mind so they really supported him in that way. He didn’t need the other groups available to help with things like breathing. What he needed was human contact and reassurance, which he certainly got from the staff at St Clare Hospice.”

“As his disease progressed, it caused him to lose his appetite completely. When he was going to the day therapy meetings, he really didn’t want anything to eat, but Ed the chef managed to source some excellent Stilton, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe a small thing, but it made a lot of difference to him.”

“Nodge also spent time on a number of occasions in the Inpatient Unit at St Clare Hospice for relief of his symptoms. His abdomen was so swollen it made movement uncomfortable, but they drained it, which meant he didn’t have to go into hospital. He was well looked after – Ed the chef did boiled eggs just the way he liked them, which I never could!”

“I was also supported by the Hospice through the Carers Group. The best thing is that you’re all in the same situation and you can say to the others in the group things you can’t say to anyone else who hasn’t had the same experiences. There’s never any criticism, and problems can be shared.”

“Nodge hated doctors and hospitals, but with appointments every two to three weeks during his illness, he joked that it was his new hobby. During his last stay in hospital, he was on a busy ward and nobody had the time. He was uncomfortable and hated being there. After being discharged, we had a care assistant come out to us at home to help look after him for a while, but when his condition deteriorated, it became obvious to me that I did not have the skills needed to keep him safe.”

“I contacted the NHS night service doctor and he decided that Nodge needed hospital care and called for an ambulance. Nodge was adamant that he would not go to hospital and asked to be taken to St Clare Hospice. Somehow the lovely ambulance person managed to contact St Clare Inpatient Unit. It was such a relief to be told there was a bed and he could go straight in – it was wonderful. I would have liked to have had him at home, but unfortunately this was before St Clare launched its Hospice at Home service, so too late for us.”

“The wonderful thing about St Clare Hospice though is that they look after you in a different way compared to the hospital. The staff were always friendly, gentle and kind. You were never aware of anyone being in a hurry, which makes such a difference. They would stop whatever they were doing to talk to us and that’s something you can’t get in a hospital because there are just not enough staff.”

“I think hospitals tend to think they have failed if a person is dying, whereas hospices don’t. St Clare makes you feel secure, and although Nodge lost the power of speech just before he died, I was aware he was comfortable and at peace.”

“Nodge died in December 2013 and that November I had finally persuaded him to make a Will. It was the first time he had ever done that and I think it was recognition from him, without words, that he needed to sort things out. He said to me that he would like to leave some money to St Clare Hospice as he simply felt he owed them a lot and would like some money to go to them so other people could have the same kind of care and support that he’d had.”

“St Clare made his life bearable and I think he was just so appreciative of that. A little bit towards other people getting the same kind of support was his way of saying thank you.”

– Janet

Many people are surprised to know that one in five people are cared for because of the generosity of people like Nodge, who have left a gift in their Will. They are a vital source of funding and allow us to continue caring for our community, now and in the future. Find out more about the importance of making a Will to you and your family and how you can remember St Clare Hospice in your Will.

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