Pat Bines was a brave, adventurous, inspirational man – going up in a hot air balloon with his syringe driver just proved it!
He was a much loved Dad and husband, who leaves behind a grieving family who feel all the richer for knowing him.
“Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March last year’ explained Jordan, Pat’s daughter. “We had an up and down time of it, as at first they thought it was treatable, but then they told us it wasn’t as the tumour was wrapped around an artery so all they could do at that point was give him intense chemo and radiotherapy with the hope it would buy him some time.”
“Dad was hopeful and determined and in fact the cancer brought out the best in him, which sounds strange, but it did. A number of times during this awful journey he was at deaths door. He had terrible bleeds that the hospital were honest enough to tell us, they might not be able to stop. It was really frightening for our family. What would we do if he started bleeding at home? What would we do?”
“Ireland was a very special place for Mum and Dad, and so when he was in hospital after a particularly awful bleed, I promised him when he got well, we would go there. It seemed to be the spur he needed because he pulled through and the date was set for us to go. We had the most incredible time. We had a bucket list and we made our way down it. Horse riding on the beach – tick, Ring of Kerry – tick, a helicopter ride - tick . It was like he had become and unstoppable force.
“Not long after that, another awful bleed occurred. We had very difficult conversations about not being able to continue to transfuse him, that soon a bleed would come, he wouldn’t recover from. We asked him what his goal was. It was to make it to his birthday, 24th June. He had more surgery and he was given a syringe driver for the pain.
“We had an unfortunate conversation with another patient in the hospital who basically told us ‘they top you up with drugs, until you die’. We were so shocked, but once Dad had the syringe driver, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. We pulled out the bucket list, and off we went again.
The Royal Free had made contact with Isabel Hospice by now and Dad wasn’t keen at all. He didn’t want to go into the Unit, he wanted to go home. All the advice was to go to the Unit on discharge from hospital, so he agreed, as a compromise to go for a while. It was a very emotional day for us all. Once there he really rallied. He offered to fix things around the Unit, did a bit of gardening and that is when we hatched the plan for a hot air balloon ride….syringe driver in tow. He told the Hospice Doctor he was going, and so we did. He as so sick, on the day, he had to get out of the basket before we took off to vomit. Even the pilot rubbed his back. Everyone was so kind. He was too frail to climb in, so they lay the basket down. Dad and I crawled in, then they filled up the balloon, the basket righted itself and we were off. Dad made sure his syringe driver was in all the photos, He wanted to show he was living his life, right to the last moment.
By now the Hospice at Home team were visiting Dad every day. He had a bed downstairs and they came to change his syringe driver and just support the whole family. We honestly don’t know what we would have done without them. It was such a frightening time, waiting for the next bleed, but they helped us through it all and became more like friends.
The day of Dad’s birthday he really wasn’t well. We all knew it. Dad would not go to bed though, he sat up with us, squeezing every last drop out of the day. He died 8 days after his birthday. He had met his goal and some. We are all incredibly proud to have known him.