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Over Christmas 2018, Lyn Buntrock started to feel discomfort in her stomach. Lyn, a retired nurse of 30 years, didn’t find cause for concern. She was fit, healthy, without any previous health problems, and just 58 years old.
Expecting a diagnosis of gallstones, Lyn went for routine tests. A scan revealed something much more severe: advanced colon cancer. Doctors were amazed that Lyn hadn’t suffered from any other symptoms.
Lyn’s prognosis was heartbreakingly bleak; there was no prospect of a cure. From the outset, the plan was to get as much time as possible, which would be months rather than years. In January 2019, Lyn was in the operating theatre for a gruelling seven hours while surgeons removed a particularly large and aggressive tumour.
Lyn became a wheelchair user and reluctantly agreed for her family to move her bed downstairs. She couldn’t eat solid foods and rapidly lost weight. As Lyn’s pain become unbearable at home, she knew it was time for Saint Francis Hospice to ease her discomfort.
‘She always said that’s where she wanted to go,’ recalled Mark, Lyn’s husband of 40 years. Lyn’s daughter Megan, then 16, was fearful. Just the word ‘hospice’ was enough to fill her with dread. She expected a dreary place. Don’t worry,’ her mum would say to her. ‘This is the best place I can be.’
Megan was taken aback by the Saint Francis Hospice vibe. She’s grateful that her whole family could fit around Lyn’s bed. She remembers how her mum loved the Hospice’s tranquil gardens and being able to step from her private room into the fresh countryside air.
Lyn was due to access untried and unlicensed medicines from the US on compassionate grounds. Sadly, she never got the chance to start the drug trials. Lyn passed away peacefully at the Hospice with her loved ones around her in August 2019. She was 59 years old.
Lyn remained dedicated to helping people throughout her life. Towards the end of her career, she ran a team of immunisation nurses, delivering vaccinations in schools. In retirement, Lyn founded and became President of Cancer Care Javea, a charity in Spain. Instead of flowers at her funeral, Lyn asked everyone to donate to Saint Francis Hospice.
‘The care Saint Francis Hospice gave her was incredible, and they managed her pain tremendously,’ Mark said. He has some simple advice for anyone considering hospice care: ‘Don’t wait until you’re critical. It’s not solely a place to die.’
Lyn’s husband and their four children, Leah, Christopher, Emma, and Megan, were at the centre of everything she did. Words cannot describe their sense of loss.
Megan, now in sixth form, is on a mission to raise as much money as she can for Saint Francis Hospice. She also wants to let her fellow students know that the Hospice is very much about living, plus what it takes for it to keep going.Thank you and good luck, Megan.
You can help people like Lyn live their final moments in comfort, dignity, joy, and in as least pain possible by volunteering for Saint Francis Hospice. There’s a whole host of voluntary roles on offer.
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