"In April 2019, I got a phone call from my mum one afternoon while visiting my dad’s memorial tree at a local burial ground.
"If I’m honest, I knew something wasn’t right before I answered. It was mum asking me to take her to hospital. She’d been referred by her doctor, there and then, for tests because something wasn’t as it should be.
"Up to and including this point, mum was the picture of health and happiness in her new-found retirement. She was going to a local gym three to four times a week along with line dancing at the local village hall.
There was nothing more they could do"We were told by the hospital that after three courses of chemotherapy there was nothing more they could do. Mum’s bowel cancel was so aggressive and rare, nothing was touching it.
"In true mum spirit, she got all her affairs in order - bills, insurances, car log book. You name it, she took care of it. Just as she had done all her life, along with taking care of me and my brother, even though we were in our 40’s and had flown the nest decades previous.
"There were numerous emergency trips to the Royal Derby hospital, both in and outpatients. During which I told her I wasn’t going to let her die in hospital which was her worst fear. It calmed her instantly. I can still see the settled look on her face whenever I think of that conversation.
I took her home as I'd promised"Inevitably, the time came when enough was enough of hospitals. I was taking her home as I’d promised.
"The decision was made on a Thursday, but the hospital was hesitant. We didn’t have anywhere downstairs to wash and bathe her, let alone give her the round-the-clock care she needed.
"Luckily, I’m in the trade and called a few favours in. Within 3 days, we did our own DIY SOS inspired big build! We converted part of her attached garage to a fully disabled toilet and shower room with electrics, plumbing, and most importantly ramp access. Without the latter, we couldn’t get her in the house on the hospital bed.
"Full of emotion and bullishness, the ambulance brought her back and we welcomed her finally back home. Fantastic news we had this covered, or so we thought.
"We didn’t have a clue what we doing at the start. After all it was us who’d been looked after. Now the roles were reversed.
"I particularly was brought down to earth very early that day when the others went for provisions and mum needed the toilet. I knew had to get her out of bed (at this point she could hardly move her muscles properly). Help her onto the toilet, then back to the bed. And to make sure she was clean and comfortable. Anyone who’s been through this, knows how difficult it is.
The hospice nurses were a godsend
"When the Treetops nurses came at night to relieve us, so we could get some sleep, it was a godsend. They were so friendly, helpful and understanding.
"They really were amazing. To the point that when it was mum’s final hours, the Treetops nurse woke us. She briefly explained she would leave us to say our goodbyes alone, as there wasn’t much time left. The care we received will always be clear in my mind.
The care we received in the evenings and occasional day visits by Treetops Hospice were invaluable. There are no other words to describe it.
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