In January 2019, Hilda Stickings was given just three months to live. A scan to find the cause of back pain revealed that she had bowel cancer, which had already spread to her liver and lungs. Hilda had been married to her childhood sweetheart, Jim, for 57 years.
‘I’ve known her since she was 15,’ Jim said. ‘The consultant told her that there’s nothing they could do. I expected her to break down, but she didn’t. We sat there holding hands.’
A nurse at Basildon Hospital asked Hilda where she wanted to die. Jim was taken aback. ‘Crikey! What a question to ask someone. But without drawing a breath, Hilda replied: ‘In a Hospice, please.’ We had to fulfil her wish.
Hilda’s daughter, Jo, revealed how her mum didn’t want to be a burden on her family. ‘Mum had seen my nan died at home after a cancer diagnosis,’ Jo said. ‘The thought of using a syringe driver filled me with dread. Mum knew it would be difficult for me and dad to care for her.’
Saint Francis Hospice’s Hospice at Home nurses arrived at Hilda and Jim’s home, to lift the strain Hilda feared would be put upon her husband and daughter. ‘The nurses gave us a lifeline,’ Jo remembered. ‘Her condition was changing daily, but they were always there to answer questions and were ever so knowledgeable.’
As Hilda entered what would become the final four weeks of her life, she came to stay on the hospice’s ward. Jim and Jo would stay overnight with Hilda in the family room.
‘The care was magnificent–from the gardeners to the domestics, night time security and medical staff – everyone was so wonderful,’ beamed Jim. Jim and Jo sat on either side of Hilda’s bed. Jim held her right hand while Jo held her left. ‘Good night and God bless,’ said Jim and Jo, as Hilda took one final breath. She was 78.
‘Saint Francis Hospice really is a beautiful place,’ recalled a tearful Jim. You can play a part in securing Saint Francis Hospice‘s status during the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the nurses who cared for Hilda.
You can find out more about how you can help here. Jim is now busy in his workshop, making wooden clocks by hand to donate to Saint Francis Hospice for auction. Thank you, Jim.
Image credit: Freepik