Tuesday, 26 June 2018

On 7th July, hundreds of people will be taking part in our NightLight Walk. Some will be walking for fun, others in remembrance. Here, David Kelly shares his and his son's story about why they took part in the walk last year.

Beverley was diagnosed with a rare form of bowel cancer in March 2015. Initially, the treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiotherapy seemed to work in reducing the size of the tumour but not long after the treatment finished in October 2015, the tumour began to grow again.

Our first experience of Peace Hospice Care was when Beverley was referred to it for pain control in February 2016. She was given a bed in the lnpatient Unit (IPU) for a couple of weeks during which time the doctors adjusted and re-balanced her pain medication, prior to starting a second course of chemotherapy.

During that period, in what would be our first experience of the hospice's care, we found the staff so attentive, friendly and supportive. There was such a different atmosphere in the IPU as to what both myself and my wife had expected. I guess we had preconceptions about what things were like in a hospice and this was very much different to that preconception. We found the place so peaceful and serene and, being her carer at the time, there was such a weight lifted off me to know how well she was being looked after whilst there. Beverley had such a nice time there, cracking jokes and having fun with some of the nurses and other IPU patients.

After they'd reconfigured her drugs, and her pain levels were under better control than before, she left to start another series of chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy drugs used in the first treatment had caused permanent peripheral neuropathy in her hands and lower limbs, so an alternative chemo drug was used. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't effective in dealing with the cancer and so just a couple of months later in May we returned to the IPU in the hospice, this time for palliative care.

At such a difficult time for our family, it was comforting to return to such a caring place. Everyone there was so accommodating to us during these last days. Indeed, the staff were particularly attentive to my son. When the staff learnt of my son's interest in baking - something that my wife and him did together at home - they arranged for him to make cookies for the IPU patients with Shirley, the hospice chef. He was so thrilled to work in a real kitchen.

Whilst my wife was a patient in the IPU this second time, we were so grateful to be offered the use of the onsite family room. It allowed our family to spend as much time as possible with her, during that last fortnight we had together. When her time came, on the evening of 18th May, we - my stepdaughter, my son, my mother and I - were all able to be present with her.

When my son and I heard about the Nightlight Walk we knew immediately that we wanted to do it in memory of my wife and to help raise funds for Peace Hospice Care via sponsorship. It was lovely to see some many people come together on a beautiful summers evening for the inaugural event. There were individuals of all ages, young and old, kids and adults, families and friends all eager to participate.

The atmosphere walking around the planned route was wonderful and the attention to detail along the route superb. There were decorations, musicians, fairies, a snow machine as well as some other surprises - the gents in the camouflaged Ghillie suits certainly surprised many people when they jumped up from the undergrowth. Our favourite moment came at the end of the walk when all participants laid their individually decorated NightLight Walk paper lanterns in the open area of the park. They were laid in the shape of a heart and it was very moving to sit there and watch the sun go down with the flickering glow of tea lights emanating from the heart.

The fact that families could participate together in this event as opposed to adults only, made it such a great event. I'd certainly recommend it to other families who would like to do something to help raise money for Peace Hospice Care. With the great care my wife and my family experienced, at our time of need, we wanted to be able to do our little something. The sponsorship money we received helped, in a small way, Peace Hospice Care to continue to provide a wonderful service to the local community.

If you would like to sign up for our 2018 Nightlight Walk find out more here.