4 May 2020 Personal Stories
Sunflower Memories Appeal 2020 - Mark’s story
Kirkwood supported Kath Trueman throughout her illness and at the end of her life in 2019. Her husband, Mark, reflects on how Kirkwood made a difference to Kath's quality of life during a difficult time...
“When Kath was diagnosed, we were told by the hospital that she was dying and only had six months left to live. The terminology was very clinical and we came away devoid of hope. Thankfully, Kirkwood got involved in Kath’s care very soon after this. From the outset, their focus was on living rather than dying. We were reassured that we had plenty to live for and Kirkwood would be with us every step of the way.
“Initially, we were supported by one of Kirkwood’s Community Nurses who would check in on us to make sure everything was okay. Her advice and support helped us to adapt to Kath’s illness.
“As her condition progressed, Kath began attending Kirkwood’s Support & Therapy Centre for day care. She loved the complementary therapies, which helped her to relax. She also enjoyed Art Therapy particularly the needle felting class, which gave her a focus and a purpose.
Mark and Kath on their wedding day.
“Kath had two stays on Kirkwood’s In-Patient unit as she approached the end of her life. She initially spent two weeks on the unit to manage her pain and symptoms. She then spent the final 8 weeks of her life there before she died in peace and dignity. The love and compassion we were shown on the In-Patient unit was overwhelming. All the staff had such a lovely manner, they genuinely cared. When communicating with us, the doctors and nurses would always address Kath first before speaking to the rest of the family. The level of respect they have for the patients is exemplary.
“I can remember one afternoon at the Hospice very vividly. Kath fancied a pub lunch but was too poorly to leave the Hospice. The nurses asked her what she would like. As soon as she told the nurses that she fancied a hot beef sandwich, they contacted the Catering Team who went out, got the ingredients and prepared a pub lunch for us all. The Fundraising Team put up a gazebo outside our room and we were able to wheel Kath’s bed outside to enjoy an afternoon in the sun with our pub lunch. This was the last time that Kath felt the sun on her face; it’s a memory I truly cherish.
Mark and Kath with their two sons.
“Since Kath died, Kirkwood have continued to help me. I still attend their bereavement sessions, which are supporting me to cope with my grief. I’m now also a Volunteer Receptionist at the Hospice, which is my way of giving something back. I live very locally to the Hospice and have been aware of it for a long time.
“Before Kath’s illness, I perceived Kirkwood to be a building where people went to die. Now I perceive it to be a sanctuary where patients and their families are supported by a special community of staff and volunteers, who all come together to help people to focus on living the best possible life and doing the things that really matter. It’s an amazing place.”
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