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Liz's Story

"Isabel Hospice was a gift to our family at a truly horrific time”

Liz was an active 52 year old Mother of 3 boys, Adam 14, Jono 15 and James 20. She worked for The Haileybury Society, swam 60 lengths a day and did regular running and walking. What started as a slight pain in her leg, quickly went on to breathlessness, and a cough which led to a diagnosis after 8 weeks in hospital, of unknown primary cancer that had spread to the lining of her lungs, lungs, liver and bones.

Richard, Liz's husband explains “Liz went to the Lister Hospital - the pain grew worse day by day - I had never seen pain like it. As fast as the hospital pain team tried to get on top of it, it ran faster. We were constantly chasing the pain. One day she got out of bed to sit in a chair and her hip broke – the cancer had weakened it to such an extent that any form of movement could have broken it – she had a full hip replacement the next day. What started as a tickly cough and slight breathlessness, became a cough we thought would never stop and it felt as if every breath was an effort – she was on oxygen to aid her breathing. It was all terrifyingly horrific. Horrific for Liz, horrific for us to watch – we felt helpless.

“We were told it was incurable, and opted for some chemotherapy to try and prolong her life. We were all frightened and Liz was desperate. She wanted to come home from hospital, and so we managed to get her discharged for what was in the end only two nights. That did not go well, and we were soon back in hospital. But, at that point it became apparent that the hospital could no longer help. They need to treat people, get them well and discharge them – they are wonderful but that is the situation. Liz wasn’t going to get better despite all our prayers and that is where Isabel Hospice came in.

We had already seen Janice, one of the Hospice community Clinical Nurse Specialists when Liz had that disastrous two nights at home, and now she recommended that Liz was admitted to the In-Patient Unit and the hospital agreed and aided it. She was terrified. We were all terrified. In just 10 weeks we had gone from a normal family to this.

What Isabel Hospice did for us was to calm us all down. The environment, the people, everything.  It was a wonderful gift to us. I wonder now how they did that for us all. At what was the worst time in our lives, they had a special skill to help us all. The boys still went to school, knowing their Mum was safe. The Doctor was able to give us the worst news, to tell us some very difficult things in such a way that we could deal with it. That is a skill not many people have. 

On a few occasions when I had gone home and it looked like Liz would not make it through the night, the nurses rang me. There was never any drama, no panic, they were able to give me difficult news in a calm way.

“Liz was only in the Unit for 5 days, but in that time she laughed again for the first time in a long time. We laughed as a family and felt part of the Isabel family as every single person was so welcoming. Liz’s pain was under control at last, she was comfortable and her ending when it came was almost a happy affair even though we were in crisis. I don’t know how Isabel did that for us, but the boys and I will be forever grateful.“

“I would suggest that most of us go about our daily lives without giving much thought as to what could happen at any time and for no apparent reason – we certainly did – it is a miracle that places such as Isabel Hospice exist.  What I have learnt is that none of us can say that we will never need places like that.  We should all be grateful that there are people willing and able to handle the most horrific situations imaginable and with such care and love. They should surely be supported by us all!”

Thank you - Richard, Adam, Jono and James