The Anderson family from Ombersley have their own personal experience of how much they have been helped by St Richard’s, particularly the Family Support Team.
Mother of two, Katy Anderson, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004 and was given just three months to live. But after radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and a wide range of treatments, Katy lived for four years.
As soon as Katy was diagnosed her husband Peter, 59, got in touch with St Richard’s and for the whole of her illness she was supported, mainly at home, by St Richard’s Nurse Specialist Joy Cadwallader.
Peter says the medical care by the hospice staff is fantastic and cannot be faulted. But he is keen that more people understand how St Richard’s offers so much to the whole family, not just the patient.
Peter explained, “Joy was Katy’s nurse and confidante but I could phone her too at any time to talk through anything. The medical care is fantastic but the hospice is so much more than that. They are very active with the whole family before the loved one dies and also very often for a long time afterwards.”
He added, “We’ve had support for seven years and it has been magnificent, and enabled us to cope with the pressures and emotions that we have faced.”
Katy and Peter’s children Rachael and Naomi were just 16 and 11 at the time their mum was diagnosed. Peter was frequently working on the Isle of Man and in China until he took a sabbatical to care for his wife.
He said, “It was a very difficult time for the whole family but we came to a group for about a year before Katy died and had individual as well as family and group counselling. What we and most people want is to be open and talk and at St Richard’s they make it a safe haven to do that.”
Rachael, now 22, is in her final year at Manchester University studying international business, finance and economics.
She said, “When I first started coming to the hospice I was scared, I didn’t know what it did or what it was about. You walk in and before my first group session I was petrified, I didn’t know what to say or who was going to be there but then you relax and you feel there is a real sense of community. You feel that what you say is going to be listened to and going to be understood and you feel like you belong. You can be as distraught and upset as you are and you will come through it and these people at the hospice help you do that.”
Peter felt so strongly about the benefits of the hospice support that he has since trained to be a group leader and Family Support Worker himself.
He offers one-to-one support and also helps run a bereavement group for parents with children who are now on their own.