Support every step of the way
Married to Andrea and with two daughters, Emma and Sarah; Dave was an engineer by trade, a problem solver who liked to make things work. His family described him as a ‘happy go lucky guy, so friendly – the life and soul of the party but with a stubborn streak!’
At the age of 50, shortly after Emma’s 16th birthday, Dave received a cancer diagnosis. For almost two decades Dave lived with cancer, having regular check ups, surgery and chemo at the Royal Marsden, whilst in between living his life to the full.
“Me and my Dad had a very close relationship, we talked about anything and everything. He was the perfect father of daughters.”
In December 2018 Dave and his family were given the devastating news that the cancer was terminal, Emma explains:
‘It was a terrible shock to hear those words, the doctors said continued treatment would improve Dad’s prognosis, which gave us a glimmer of hope. In March 2020 though, they advised us that the time had come to stop the treatment, discharge Dad, and refer him to his local hospice service. We were distraught. ‘Hospice’ sounded so final. But once we’d been referred to Rennie Grove, gradually we realised that ‘hospice’ didn’t just mean end of life. What it meant for Dad was the chance to keep living his life the way he wanted to, for as along as possible.’
At first things were not easy, Dave didn’t want help from the Rennie Grove nurses. However the nurses talked to Dave about how difficult it could be for his family, and that they could support them with their visits. Emma says ‘I think that helped him feel safer – more in control’. And slowly, but surely, with monthly phone check-ins at first, the rapport built and the trust grew.
“We knew they’d won him over when he’d say to Mum, ‘let’s give the Rennie Grove nurses a call and see what they say’.”
With that foundation in place, the nurses were able to help Dave maintain his independence and his mobility, rapidly arranging equipment and aids to help move about safely at home as the need arose. As his condition deteriorated the nurses visited more often. Helping to control his symptoms and keep him comfortable. Emma says “I know the nights were hardest for Mum. As she says, everything seems worse in the middle of the night. Being able to talk to the nurses at 3am – knowing they’d come out to her and Dad if she needed them to – gave her strength to keep going.”
By the start of 2022, Dave was getting very frail. The tumor on his chest made it increasingly hard for him to get comfortable. The nurses were visiting multiple times a day now to help with pain relief. They spoke to Dave and his family about the Peace Hospice, where 24-hour specialist care would help keep him more comfortable towards the end. Dave agreed and the nurses managed the transition.
“He was made to feel so welcome when he arrived at the Peace Hospice. We could see immediately he felt at ease there.”
Emma says about his care: “what was so brilliant about all the hospice care we had – from Rennie Grove’s specialist nurses, to the wonderful team that welcomed Dad so warmly into the Peace Hospice – was that they always put Dad first. They spoke to him, listened to him, involved him in decisions about his medication and his care right from the get-go until the very end.”
In this video, Emma talks about her Dad and how Rennie Grove and Peace Hospice Care helped him.
For Dave, staying out of hospital was paramount. As was maintaining a sense of some control over his condition, right until the end. Dave died in February 2022 and since then friends and family have been fundraising in lots of different ways to celebrate his life and make sure other families get the same choice and care that Dave had. They have recently taken part in a running challenge, covering over 2023 miles between them.
“When Dad felt at his most vulnerable – they gave him back some choice and a sense of control. That meant so much to a man like my lovely Dad. And so, it meant the world to us too.”
Where to next
Community Hospice at Home
Our visiting palliative care nurses provide the choice to be cared for at home.
Bereavement, Listening and Talking Therapies
Counsellors and trained listeners provide emotional support for those facing life-changing illness or bereavement.
Learn more about our care from some of the wonderful patients, carers and families we've had the privilege of supporting.