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Ray’s story

Shared by Ray’s daughter, Sarah.

I can’t express how grateful I am for the support that my family and I received from Sobell House.

My dad had suffered with prostate cancer and a bad heart for a few years, but had his symptoms under control. He started to get really bad stomach pains, which left him unable to eat, and following tests we were told that he had stomach cancer with only a couple of weeks left to live.

As you can imagine, this was a total, devastating shock for the family, and of course to my dad. He was too ill at this point to leave the house, so the lovely Sobell House community team came to visit him. Dad expressed to them how determined he was to stay at home, and so a district nurse came to fit a syringe driver to help manage his pain.

However, the following night dad went to the bathroom in the early hours and had a fall; he couldn’t move and was stuck on the bathroom floor for hours while we waited for an ambulance to arrive. The paramedics were wonderful, and we had to make the difficult decision to admit him to hospital as he was so unwell. We were told to say our goodbyes in case he didn’t make the journey. Thankfully, he did, and we were able to visit him in A&E, for which we were very grateful.

The staff told us they were going to move dad to the cancer ward in the Churchill Hospital where he would be more comfortable. We agreed, but didn’t realise this meant he would only be allowed one visitor, and of course this would be my mum. For five days, my sister and I sat outside the ward hoping we could see him one last time. It was breaking our hearts.

Pictured: Ray and Sarah
Pictured: our hospice garden
Pictured: Ray and Sarah

Dad was then moved to a different ward and he had a private side room, so we were allowed to see him again. The nurses were so busy and doing as much as they possibly could, but we had to help care for him too. The staff asked where we wanted dad to die – this was an incredibly hard decision and they suggested we look at Sobell House. When me, my mum and sister walked into the hospice for the first time we couldn’t believe how nice it was. We agreed that this was the right place for him, and it meant that the rest of our family could visit too. We talked this through with my dad and he agreed in the end with help from one of the doctors. I stayed with dad while he was moved to Sobell House. I could tell he wasn’t happy, but once his grandson had arrived to visit with my mum, sister, and her husband he was fine.

The next day, we arrived at the hospice around midday for our visit – my poor dad was in bed and just came out and said that he would die tomorrow. We asked dad if there was anything he wanted to do, and he asked to sit in the garden. Well, the amazing staff made this possible within minutes, and dad was wheeled outside in his bed to feel the fresh air, enjoy the peace and quiet, and look at the flowers. There were bird feeders outside and dad enjoyed watching the birds and listening to birdsong, just as he did at home. We were all laughing and singing – dad was even trying to dance by moving his feet to the music and enjoying a small glass of wine. It was a really special and memorable evening. The nurses were angels and gave dad the care that he deserved.

We were given bedding to stay the night but we didn’t manage to get any sleep. Dad was slipping in and out of consciousness, and we were advised to call the rest of our family – this was hard, but we felt strong enough to face this through the support from everyone at Sobell House.

That day we lost our father.

Sobell House made me realise how the little things in life mean so much. Not just acts of kindness, but the words people use make a difference. I want to be able to give other families who are going through pain and suffering the same level of care that we were given at Sobell House. That’s why I’ve signed up to the Oxford Half and have enrolled for the London Marathon. I want to make my dad proud – he was my hero.

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

If your loved one was cared for by our team and you would be comfortable to share your story with our supporters, please fill out our story form.