A Derby woman, whose late father was cared for by Treetops Hospice Care, has written a letter thanking the hospice, and urging others to support the charity this Christmas.

Louise Mellor, 34yrs, explained how her dad received support during his last year of life:

We decided as a family we would make every day count

“My dad, Dennis, was a really likeable man with a dry sense of humour. He was a cabinet maker by trade and enjoyed hobbies such as sailing (he even made his own boat!) and in his later years when the water got too cold he took up golf. He retired at 60 and enjoyed his last ten years on the golf course. We had always been close, mum would say we were like two peas in a pod.

“Mum and dad came to me for Christmas 2018. Dad had a really bad cough which initially was thought to be a chest infection but within a couple of months, he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. We didn’t see it coming and it was a massive shock to us all. Mesothelioma unfortunately is not curable and prognosis was somewhere between three to nine months. We decided as a family that we’d assume it was three months, because then we would make every day count up to then.

“Dad accepted his diagnosis quickly. He said, ‘I’ve got this time left, I want to live for the time I’ve got’ and that’s exactly what he did, it was inspiring and his attitude helped me to accept his diagnosis.

Treetops made the world of difference to him

“I started to research about the disease and looked at where dad could go to improve his quality of life. Quite early on, I discovered Treetops. Dad started going each week and it literally made the world of difference to him.

“He looked forward to going and he would come back so excited to tell us all about what he’d done each week. It was somewhere he went where he could still be himself, and not his illness. He enjoyed meeting new people and trying new things, I remember him telling me about their sports day, seaside day, birds of prey event and he also talked a lot about the food! While there he also tried the complementary therapies offered by Treetops. He would never have had Reiki or Massage but quickly began to see the benefits. It was so nice to see him happy and that helped me to cope a little better.

“When the illness had taken hold, I realised just how important Treetops was to him. He wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed for days but he still wanted to go and Treetops kindly arranged transport for him as he was no longer able to drive.

One of his last goals was to have Christmas dinner at Treetops

“I think it kept him going. He kept setting himself little goals and one of his last goals was to have Christmas dinner at Treetops. It was just as important to him as having Christmas with me and mum. He was absolutely determined to be there despite how poorly he was and it was the final time he went. He achieved his goal.

“Every single visit was made special for him. He was so lucky to have had Treetops in that last year of his life. When I look back, I have such good memories connected to Treetops and how happy he was when he went. I can look back and know he had the best year he could have possibly had. There was nothing more I could have wished for him.

“Towards the end, mum and I took on more care roles. It was really hard to see dad poorly and we were struggling to manage. Treetops helped out by sending some Hospice at Home nurses who came on a few afternoons to give us respite and we were especially appreciative of the nurses who stayed overnight.

Treetops helped dad to live, while he was dying

“Treetops helped dad to live, while he was dying. They were such a massive part of his last year of life and whatever he needed, nothing was too much trouble. I genuinely can’t thank them enough for everything they did.

“I hope in sharing our story that you understand the huge difference Treetops made to my dad and to us as a family. That amazing gift could be there for other people and families.

“Thank you and best wishes to you this Christmas.”

Treetops Hospice Care, based in Risley, supports adults with life-limiting conditions living in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The charity must raise over £4.3million each year – £7,500 each day – to run the hospice.

Donations to Treetops Hospice Care can be made here and there are several other ways to support the hospice this Christmas.

Treetops services include Support and Information, Wellbeing Space, Hospice at Home nurses and Therapeutic Services including counselling, art therapy and complementary therapy.