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Dying Matters: Cancer Relief became part of our family

Cancer Relief Gibraltar is marking Dying Matters this week, a Hospice UK-led initiative that helps open up the conversation on death, dying and bereavement.
As part of this awareness campaign, the charity is sharing testimonials from its members of staff and service users on the hospice service it offers. Today’s testimonial is Joe’s story.
Each day Chronicle readers have had the opportunity to learn more about the service and the services available when faced with a terminal illness.
The charity is also running a survey on the community’s attitudes towards death which is available on:

We thought the Cancer Relief services were more necessary to other people who didn't have family back up, or whose partner was too weak to help, or whatever. It was Debbie actually, one of the nurses, and she said 'well, what about if we come every couple of weeks or once a week, just for a chat'. I said 'Really?' Because that gave my wife a respite from me and me a respite from my wife. Because of Covid and the treatments and all the travelling, we were all the time alone together.

It started like that and eventually it became end of life treatment, palliative but completely end of life. It got to the stage that my wife was so bad that she asked to go to hospital. She spent about 9 days there and then she asked to come out of hospital. It was all sparked by a visit by one of the nurses to the ward. Her eyes again sparkled when she saw the nurse. She smiled. She could hardly talk, she could hardly eat, she could hardly drink, but just the way she looked at that nurse and the way she interacted with the nurse and said, 'Yes the time is right to go back home'.

We had a meeting which the [Cancer Relief] nurse participated with the palliative team at St Bernard's Hospital and it was decided to take her back home. We had the hospital bed and everything, which Cancer Relief had arranged. That was again fantastic for us. They arranged some [complementary therapy] treatment for my wife and everything. And we went back home. Those last 10 days of her life, Cancer Relief became part of our family. Basically part of our family and we are forever thankful for that, you know. It's something we never thought we'd need. Something that most people hope they will never need…

End of life care is as important as the rest of clinical care because the last few days of a person's life is what you take with you, and what the family keeps. And just seeing that person being comfortable, cared for, is a great relief. And when the passing happens and we all are going to pass, that knowledge that the person has gone with care, is invaluable.

An excerpt from Joe’s story. Watch the full video on Cancer Relief’s social media and website

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