Abi Feeley’s working life involves commuting from Brentwood to Baker Street five days a week, a three hour round trip. Yet, every Friday night, instead of kicking off her shoes for a well-deserved rest, she makes her way to Saint Francis Hospice to volunteer. Abi, at 27 does more than helping out on reception. She’s someone who patients’ loved ones can relate and talk to, having been in their position before.
Abi revealed that: ‘They often open up to me after they’ve learned that I’ve gone through the same situation with my mum. I know those conversations mean so much to someone who is struggling. Mum and I used to do so much together.’ She reflected: ‘I suddenly had all this spare time, and I knew I had to repay the Hospice for how they looked after her.’
The tumour in Jackie Feeley’s bowel was so small that it lay undetected for years despite several scans to try and identify the cause of a pain in her side. Jackie was a nurse and doctors put her discomfort down to a pulled muscle. Two years later, the pain was still persisting. Another scan revealed that the tumour had grown. Bowel cancer had spread to Jackie’s liver.
‘Mum was a real fighter, and her attitude was incredible while going through chemotherapy,’ Abi recalled. At just 56 years old, Jackie was given six months to live. Abi and her family were preparing for one last Christmas together. Only five days later, Jackie’s health deteriorated. She and her family agreed that they could no longer keep her at home and that the best place for her would be at the Hospice.
‘Mum always looked flawless,’ Abi fondly recalled. ‘The day she was due to go to the Hospice, she styled her pixie cut, picked a blazer, and put on a nice pair of jeans and boots. Mum looked so glamorous even though she knew why she was going into the Hospice.’
Sadly, Jackie never made those six months and passed away peacefully at the Hospice, seven days after that prognosis. ‘She was 58.’I had a misconception that the Hospice would be a miserable place, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived. Mum had a private room with doors opening to the beautiful gardens. “I really love being at the Hospice,” she said, volunteering has lifted me out of a very dark place.’
You can help people just like Jackie by supporting the nurses who cared for her. You can find out more here.