by | Thursday, May 9th, 2019 | News

Julie’s* husband Craig* was supported by the district nursing team at Livewell in 2018 in the weeks leading up to his death.

Craig had been diagnosed with neck and head cancer in October 2017 just months after finding a lump on his neck.

“We were on holiday when he found the lump on and was complaining about it,” Julie recalls.

“At the time we laughed about it and I told him to man up, but when we got home I made sure he went to see the doctor who said she thought it could be cancer.

“That was August 2017 and after undergoing all of the various tests, we were told in the October that it was cancer but that they were confident it could be cured.”

A couple of weeks after Craig began treatment, the news came that the cancer had spread to his lungs and it was now terminal.

Julie added: “It was a real shock, but I tried to stay as positive as I could for Craig.

“He was very quickly left bed bound and needed a PEG tube to be fed because he couldn’t eat and then it spread to his bones and brains and he began having seizures.

“He wanted to be at home and I wanted him to be at home so that I could care for him, and when you’re in that situation and it’s the person you love you do all you can for them.

“In the last couple of weeks before he died I knew I needed some help and Livewell’s district nursing team was recommended to me.

“When you think of district nurses, you don’t think of them providing end of life care but Sarah Cattell our nurse was amazing. Not only in caring for Craig but also in the way she supported me.

“She was so down to earth it made it so easy to talk to her.

“I don’t think the nurses get enough recognition or appreciation for what they do and the difference they make to people’s lives.”

Craig died peacefully in his sleep at home on September 5, 2018 aged 54.

“I really don’t believe in angels or anything superstitious but the day before Craig died I was sat on his bed and saw loads of white feathers outside of the window – I even got up to check our cat hadn’t killed a bird,” Julie said.

“Everyone that came to see him that day said that something felt different and it did. There was a huge part of me that was relieved that he was no longer in pain.

“My advice to others whose loved ones are dying is to be as open as you can with other and talk about what they want before it’s too late.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help because there are wonderful people like the district nurses out there to support you.

“I will always be so grateful for their support and cannot thank Sarah enough.”

*indicates name has been changed

To read more about Dying Matters week and the role of our end of life lead, Sharon King, click here.
To read more about Dying Matters week and the nurses’ story, click here.

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