Stories

I was given a room for 3 weeks to spend with my husband before his passing.

I thought I would be in a constant state of grief. Every single person in the Hospice made me feel so welcome. The nurses, doctors, domestics, admin and cafe staff were all amazing. I cried and laughed every day but felt blessed being able to be with my husband until the end. Everyone treated him with such dignity and I will never forget them.

Strangely, days after the funeral when reality kicked in and I paced the floor at night, I wanted to go back to the Hospice where I knew I would be welcomed and they would understand how I was feeling. Every person in this wonderful place are hand picked angels and I am honoured to have met them all.

Posted on behalf of Grace on 19/09/17

My husband was in the Hospice, and four days before he died it was our Ruby Wedding Anniversary.

We had booked a meal for family and friends at a local hotel and the Hospice staff helped us to get my husband dressed in his best to go for the meal.

When our daughter and son-in-law brought us back we saw that the staff had arranged to have his bed moved into a private room, where there was a bed I could sleep in and be near him on our last Anniversary. It was a very thoughtful thing to do and they also arranged for a special breakfast the next morning for both of us.

This was only one of innumerable kindnesses shown to us, as a family, while my husband was ill. We cannot praise St Andrews Hospice enough for their care and kindness. God bless them all.

Posted on 06/09/17

Jim was referred to our Wellbeing @ St Andrew’s service. His legs and feet were very swollen and red and it was affecting his mobility and balance.

Jim: My confidence had been shattered. I had been in the hospital three times within eleven weeks with the same thing. As soon as it had cleared up, I was discharged again. I said to myself, ‘I can’t go on like this for the rest of my life, I need to do something’. I was encouraged by my two sisters to contact the Hospice. I was then referred to St Andrew’s Hospice Day Services by my MacMillan nurse. The Day Services staff got me an appointment with Hospice Consultant Dr McWilliams, June, my Complementary Therapist and Ann, my Counsellor and I’ve never looked back since.

The difference that massage has made; I’ve no walking stick, my confidence is back to normal. My life was built around the golf course, I was a good golfer but I hadn’t played golf in two years because of the pain and my mobility. When I first met June, she asked me what my aim was. I told her that it was to get back on the golf course but I didn’t think that would ever happen.

I’ve been coming here for 9 weeks now but after only a couple of weeks, I noticed a big difference. I’ve been showing my leg to everybody!

I’ve had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and it was a new drug that I’d been put on that was knocking me sideways, the side effects; my balance, the restless legs, it was terrible. The massages have helped with all of that.

June: We’ve also been doing Reiki after the therapy, to help calm Jim down a little. When he first came to see me, he had a MYCAW (Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing) score of 18, the highest score you can get. Now, it has gone down to a score of 1. Now he is walking more, he’s got rid of the walking stick, he’s more mobile, the swelling is down, the redness is better, the pain issue is not there anymore and the restless legs have gone.

Jim: I had told June previously that my shins were sore. I have cancer of the bones. I’ve had radiotherapy on my sides and on my back but because of the pain in my legs, I was convinced it had spread there too. Now I’m not. I never think about cancer on my legs anymore and that’s a great psychological thing. I was at the hospital last week to get the results of my tests. I asked how the bones were. My doctor told me the bones they were fine. I then asked about my legs, was anything showing in my legs? He said no, nothing.

It’s a great feeling when you get up in the morning and you have a purpose in life. It’s a great, great feeling. You have no idea the difference it’s made to me. I went to the golf range this week, that was the first time I’d hit a golf ball in almost two years. Boy, did I enjoy it!  It was great. I hit the first ball and it came off the sweet spot as they say, I couldn’t have hit it any better. I couldn’t get back up the road quick enough to tell my sister!

I had given up my golf membership because I couldn’t do it anymore and I had resigned to that fact. I didn’t like it; it was the worst thing for me. That was worse than the chemotherapy or radiotherapy and all the side effects – losing my hair and everything else. Now, my next target is to play golf again, to get back on the course. I’ll take it slowly.

I can get out and about now; do my own thing, get my own messages. I’ve got my independence back.  The leg exercises I do with Scott in the Wellbeing classes help with my mobility too. I try to do some myself in the house too.

This was the best thing that has happened to me, coming here. Before, I thought I just couldn’t go on like this, ending up in the hospital every three weeks. It was terrible. Dr McWilliams got in touch with my own doctor and they agreed to decrease my medication. That has also made a difference. Between that and the massage, it’s all working together. It’s complete teamwork. Ann, my counsellor at the Hospice, the way she spoke to me and listened to me – that gave me confidence too.

My MacMillan nurse thinks I’m looking great now. She comes to see me every fortnight and always asks how my legs are doing and I show her the difference in them. She thinks it’s great.

There’s a first class job being done on me, I can assure you of that. The number of people who tell me I’m looking well is great. To look at me, they wouldn’t know what I’ve been through.  About fourteen months ago, I was lying in hospital and the doctor asked me if I wanted to send for my family. He said I only had a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. I just told that ‘Ach, I’ll be here in the morning!’

June: A lot of your progress is to do with your positive attitude as well.

Jim: Every three years, I bought a new car and this year, it was due when I came out of the hospital but I didn’t think there was any point in me buying a new car – the way I felt, I didn’t think I would be here for long. But if you go out into the car park today, you’ll see my new car! I got it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got my confidence back and that’s all down to coming to St Andrew’s Hospice.

If I hadn’t come here, I’d be in a sorry state today. The team have all played their part, it’s been brilliant. If talking about my experience convinces one person to come here, it will have been worth it.

If someone had told me two years ago that I’d sit down and get my legs massaged or sit down with a counsellor,  I’d have said ‘On yer bike, no chance!’ but coming here, in this environment, I realised that these people are here to help me, so you should take the help that is being offered to you. The whole circle has made such a difference to me, you can be proud of yourselves. I’d like to thank everyone – from my two sisters, to my MacMillan Nurse to everybody at St Andrew’s Hospice for their support.

Posted on behalf of Jim on 11/08/17

Dear Santa,

Thank you for not forgetting me this year and allowing me to recover my health at St Andrew’s Hospice, Airdrie. There are a lot of people attending to me every day to help me feel better – and they have been successful – I am feeling very well.

For “Santa” read “the doctors, nurses, auxiliaries, cleaners, physiotherapists, administrators, complementary therapists and others” that are the St Andrew’s Hospice experience. The team also includes clever pathologists, blood technicians and other little elves working in the background external to the hospice providing invaluable service.

Living alone at home I eventually employed someone to help with cleaning, shopping and collecting prescriptions one day a week. Now that the vegetables had been delivered it was up to me to make a pot of soup for example. Short of energy that pot of soup became the ‘project’ for the day or maybe the next day.  Reluctantly I realised that I was not coping on my own and I was fortunate to find a welcome at St Andrew’s Hospice.

Every day here at St Andrew’s Hospice I have plenty of time to observe what’s going on from my bedside.  I don’t know why it took me so long to remember what an important part ‘rest’ plays in the healing process. However it’s the whole package that Santa and his elves brings to their job every day that has made a difference to me. Thank you for another wonderful Christmas.

Posted on 22/12/16

“When I was given the news of having breast cancer, and then a fortnight later, secondary cancer, it struck fear into my heart. No one wants to hear the word ‘cancer’. The word ‘cancer’ is terrifying, absolutely terrifying. The same goes for words like ‘hospice’, ‘Macmillan Nurses’ and ‘Maggie’s’.

“You don’t know what they are going to do, you don’t know why you’re going- apart from the fact that you’ve been handed this sentence – you don’t know what’s involved.

“When I first came here for the exercise class, on the recommendation of my Macmillan Nurse, I first thought: ‘Hospice? I’m not ready for a hospice. I’m alright, I don’t need this.’

“I lost all my confidence when they diagnosed me so I came to the door [of the Day Hospice], around 12 weeks ago, and I rung the bell. I nearly didn’t ring the bell, I saw the bell and I thought ‘No, I can’t do this, I have to go’ but I rang the bell.

“It was aromatherapy first and then the exercise class. The aromatherapy has helped me to cope with an exercise class. I had eczema on my foot but [aromatherapy] has helped and given me the confidence to wear pink, and bright colours, I love my colours.

“Then my Complementary Therapist brought me through to meet the Physiotherapist for the exercise class. I thought I was fit until I started here. My Physiotherapist told me to take my time but I thought ‘I can’t do this, I shouldn’t be here’. I was doing 40 lengths of swimming a week but on coming here, I couldn’t put one foot in front of another.

“Coming here has been 12 weeks of fun. I have loved every minute of it. There’s a bit of a laugh, a bit of talk, my Physiotherapist supports me, she pushes me but says ‘If you can’t do it, don’t do it’.

“I can’t believe I’m the same person that I was when I first chapped that door, because now I can chap that door and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I love it!

“We work on stretches, balance, getting everything moving again, and standing on one leg for sixty seconds. Sixty seconds has been a target from week one and I managed 44 seconds last week, which is the best I’ve ever done. It’s brilliant, it really is. I wouldn’t be where I am today without what I’ve done here.

“When I go for my aromatherapy, it relaxes me. Reiki puts me to sleep, I just drift. I’m totally refreshed and raring to go.

“I get reflexology too. I love it; I’d never had that before until 12 weeks ago. Nobody ever touches my feet. I used to go to the beautician to get my nails painted but when I lost my confidence, [I stopped] so that is something else I’ve had to overcome. My complementary therapist recommended reflexology and I’m glad that she did, because like I say, my foot was red raw with eczema and it’s not red raw now, you would never know I had it. I wish we’d taken before and after pictures – the same with the exercise class, then we could see [where I was then] to where I am now.

“Doing this, talking, if I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be here; I would have given up. I would have lay in bed and given up. This has given me my life back for as long as I can keep it going, which is what I’m going to do. If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.

“It’s an inspiration and I just wish that more people knew about it and would use [the service]. Some people do know about it but they won’t take that step.

“You meet people, and then the following week, one of them isn’t there, which has happened to me a few times, but because of the staff – they help you through it. I’ve met some wonderful people in here.

“You do get attached [to people] but I think the staff do tremendously well. They don’t invade your space and you don’t invade theirs. They’ll do whatever they can for you, they’ll do as much as they can, but they don’t come into your space if you’re not ready for it.

“It’s helped me socially, mentally and physically – the full package. It really has. When I first came here, I didn’t have these colours on. I had a dark pair of trousers and a dark top on but then I thought ‘No, I’m colour, this is me’. My Physiotherapist actually encouraged that because I was talking to her after one of the exercise classes and she asked how I was. I said ‘I’m fine but I do colours, I like colours, I’m a colourful person’.  I love pink so she told me to come back next week with a pink outfit on and that’s what I did.

“Things have happened over the years that have knocked my confidence, I’ve had to rebuild quite a few times and I have. I’m still here, I’m still fighting and I’ll keep fighting as long as I can walk, talk…

“If [talking about my experiences] helps another person, I’ll do it. If talking about it can do something for someone else that was like me, that’s good. I hope that a lot more people know about the services here.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people, I’ve got friends who are going through the same as me and they don’t know where to go. I’ve told them to come along. I’ve told them it’s not about going to the hospice and getting into a bed and thinking ‘That’s me’. It’s not like that. It’s a day unit where you meet people, you get exercise, and you get a chat and cup of tea. It’s the taking part, it motivates you. Some people are just terrified to take that step, like I was, but if I hadn’t taken that step, I wouldn’t [be where I am today].

“I am me, I am actually a better me. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. My aim was to make it to a night out in the West End of Glasgow last week. I went and I had my first pair of high heels on since my diagnosis and I was up dancing in the middle of the floor and have photos. [At one point during the evening] someone asked my husband where I was, I was up on the dance floor. I thought ‘I’m not sitting down!’

“I just get up every day, put my earrings in, put on whatever I want to wear and I just make the most of that day and it’s because of these places, I know it is.

“Cancer can be a lonely place if people don’t know about places like this.”

Posted on behalf of Susan on 30/09/2016

“My mum Eileen went to St Andrew’s Hospice in February 2015 from the Beatson, where she was put into St Margaret’s ward.

From the moment she got there, the staff were fantastic by helping her settle in. She was in for a wee while then the doctor suggested a pass to get my mum home for a couple of days. The only problem was my mum could not get upstairs to her bed so the doctor said not a problem. She got Donna from Social Work and OT to work on getting things ready for my mum coming home so OT and Donna got my mum a bed and a commode so she could come home which was great.

Then she went back to the hospice where, yet again, the nurses were asking her how her weekend home was. Then we got her home at Easter weekend again, it was brilliant.

When she went back to the hospice, when her health got worse, they moved my mum into a big beautiful conservatory where we could spend more time with my mum right until the end of her life. With all the family coming up to see my mum, the nurses moved my mum in to a bigger room so all the family could come and see my mum. My dad stayed with my mum all night. The night shift staff came in and gave my dad pillows and blankets and asked if he wanted toast and tea or coffee or if he wanted anything else just to ask.

Of course I can’t forget Sister Catherine. Every day after 11.00 mass, she would come round and see my mum and say a few prayers with her and she would comfort my mum and help me through what was going to happen to my mum.

Then, on the 15th April 2015, my mum passed away with all the family and friends around her beside. After my mum passed away, the nurses that were on that morning put us in the room next to my mum’s room and brought us tea and coffee and and biscuits. When we went back into the room, my mum looked at peace now. They had laid out the Holy Bible and lit a candle.  Sister Catherine came back in and said a few prayers.

I cannot fault all the staff at St Margaret’s ward, all the work that they do and the care that they give.  One thing I ask of the hospice is that you just keep doing a fantastic job in looking after other people’s mums the way that the staff at St Margaret’s ward look after mine. There are too many staff to name individually.”

Posted on behalf of The McGuire Family on 27/04/2015

“In 1994, I was 13 years old, my mum was quickly moved to St Andrew’s Hospice. She wasn’t there long but was cared for so well, my words could not do it justice!

She passed away in March, and even at the Light if Life Service in December that year and years after, the ladies who cared for my mum still recognised us and were interested in our well being!

It has been almost 20 years now and although still difficult, I still remember how nice the hospice was as if it were yesterday! Thank you all so much! You do such a good and caring job!”

Posted on behalf of Allison on 05/01/2015

“My dad spent the last few weeks of his life in this amazing hospice.   Initially the decision to reach out to hospice was a scary one but with the help of our Macmillan nurse and the staff at St Andrew’s, it was very gentle and reassuring for dad rather than scary.

My dad was so independent and determined to walk through the hospice doors himself, at 62 with oesophageal cancer and a long history of surgery, chemo, constant infections, he was a real warrior.

My dad was in the St Margaret’s Ward, I have never met such a great bunch of nurses and auxiliaries. My dad was given the highest level of care, every little thing to make him comfortable was never a problem and always happened straight away. The small things like that are such a big deal to the families of the patients, just to know our loved ones are getting cared for with such empathy is such a comfort.

As dad’s last days approached the nurses moved us to a lovely big conservatory.  My brother, sister and our husbands and wives held a bedside vigil with dad for 7 days and nights. During this week, watching our father prepare to die were the worst and most cherished days of my life.

Again, the nurses and all the staff were there to help us; a rattle of a tea trolley filled with toast at 2am, a plate of sandwiches and bowls of soup for the six of us, never asked for, just brought because they knew we hadn’t eaten for hours, a hand to squeeze mine or rub my shoulder when I had moments of despair. The staff are simply angels with huge hearts.

Of course I can’t forget Sister Catherine. She came to see dad every day and every night and spent time talking with us and praying with us, my dad really had a soft spot for her, as do my brother, sister and I and we often speak of her.

My dad Thomas Russell Aitken passed away comfortably and peacefully on 27th February 2014 with us by his side. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for holding our hands and giving guidance and comfort every step of the way.  St Andrew’s will always have a place in my heart.”

Posted on behalf of Laura Harrop on 28/04/15