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John’s story

Shared by John’s daughter, Hayley.

My Dad was an amazing man; a true friend to so many and the most supportive dad I could have asked for.

It came as a complete shock when Dad called me in 2013, while I was on holiday in Cornwall, and told me he had collapsed, was in hospital having tests, and they suspected he had cancer. Shortly after this we were told the news that Dad had been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. He was a strong-willed man – never one to give up – and chose to join clinical trials. Some of the trials worked and helped to bring his blood levels down, which in turn improved his overall health, but sadly he was still struggling to live an independent life and was in a lot of pain, which was really hard to see.

This is when Dad was introduced to Sobell House and started attending the Living Well day service. He made so many friends there – from the drivers who picked him up, to the people who attended the sessions alongside him, to the staff who were so supportive. When I was introduced to everyone I felt like I knew them already, because Dad had nothing but good words to say about everyone and his experiences. I felt reassured that he was in the best care possible.

During his time at Sobell House, Dad was able to make use of the many services on offer which were all fantastic. Dad had a passion for music and wrote poetry, so the music therapist Tom helped Dad to bring this passion to life. He spent hours in Tom’s studio turning poetry into songs and recording tracks together. He was so proud of these, and even had regular slots in his local pubs where he would perform in his Sobell House t-shirt the songs that they had produced together.

While Dad was still living at home, Sobell House also supported him by sourcing carers. This was so helpful as he lived on his own and needed day-to-day care, which I couldn’t manage alongside my full-time job. He was also admitted to the hospice for a couple of weeks in 2017 for pain-relief medication and to get the respite he needed.

Pictured: John with his son Leon
Pictured: John with Blue
Pictured: John performing

Dad was reluctant when it was suggested he could no longer cope at home, and should be admitted to the Sobell House ward in February 2018. He knew this meant the end was near and he just didn’t want to give up, plus he wanted to stay at home with his budgie Blue. However, because he already knew the staff he settled in well, and enjoyed chatting, laughing and joking with the doctors and nurses, who honestly couldn’t have done enough for him.

Towards the end, Dad lost his appetite, and the only things he fancied were ice cream and milkshakes! The chef would always go out of her way to make him fresh strawberry milkshakes which he loved. The staff also provided Dad with a CD player so he could listen to music. Another of Dad’s passions was gardening – he was a gardener by trade – so the nurses would take him outside in a wheelchair so he could sit in the beautiful gardens and listen to the birds in the sunshine.

The doctors and nurses, although busy, always found time to sit with us, and kept us informed with Dad’s condition and what to expect. We found the Chaplain very supportive and he would regularly pop in and chat to Dad – I know he found this of great comfort. Dad struggled to get out of bed in his final weeks of life and the physios did a fantastic job hoisting him out of bed and supporting him to sit in a chair. As a man of only 59 Dad found it hard losing his independence and they understood this.

Dad passed away in Sobell House on 28 March 2018. As I reflect on Dad’s final years of life I am reminded of lots of painful memories, but many happy memories too, which was thanks to the support of Sobell House. The team do such a fantastic job of supporting people through the saddest of times.

Dad is missed by so many people, but his big personality and character has meant his memory will live on forever and still brings a smile to our faces. 

Thank you so much to Hayley for kindly sharing her family’s experience of Sobell House.

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