My final days with Dad

It wasn’t much to ask. Gordon Meades and his family wanted him to have the care and support he deserved, to spend his final days at home. With Marie Curie’s help, the family was able to spend the time they needed together. Gordon’s daughter Amanda explains what the experience meant to her.

Being there for Gordon: (l-r) Gordon's son Mark, Gordon, granddaughter Hannah, wife Ann, and daughter Amanda

“He was a very caring dad. He was always there for us whenever there was a problem and gave good advice. Mum and Dad celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in March 2016 so they’d been married a very long time. He’d been very active up until later that year, enjoying walking and cycling seven or eight miles at a time.”

Shocking news

Gordon was diagnosed with bowel and terminal liver cancer in December 2016.

“My mum and brother Mark were with him” remembers daughter Amanda. “It was shocking news. They were told on the Saturday night and just sent home, with no information or support.”

Gordon spent some time in hospital, but didn’t respond to treatment. Being a family man, his wish was to be with those he loved.

“Dad was desperate to go home,” says Amanda. “It’s where he wanted to be.”

Struggling to cope

Gordon’s family took on responsibility for caring for him. “At the time, we just wanted to get him home and I naively said we would manage for a few days until things were put in place,” reflects Amanda.

“Mum was really struggling. She called Marie Curie’s rapid response team, as the alarm on Dad’s syringe driver was going off. She was really panicked and it was late – around midnight. They came out within the hour and sorted it all out for her, and sat with her until she was calmer. But what she needed was night care.”

The support we needed

The family found support from a Marie Curie Nurse, who came to their home every night until Gordon died. “When the nurse came, she was very good at reassuring Mum,” says Amanda. “It was just amazing to have her there. Before, Mum couldn’t leave Dad even for a minute, but now she was getting some rest.

“It felt like a weight had been lifted. If you can have that pressure taken off you in the night, and get a good night’s sleep, then it makes it so much easier to cope during the day.

Being able to just be there

For Amanda and her family, it was so important that Gordon could spend his final days in the place he most wanted to be, in comfort.

“Having Dad at home meant we could spend the night with him and really as much time as we wanted. He didn’t talk a lot but we were all together and all there for each other. I held his hand and was just there with him.”

After Gordon died, the family decided they wanted to help make sure others could benefit from the kind of care he received.

“We are so grateful to Marie Curie,” explains Amanda. “Through donations given at Dad's funeral and by ourselves, we have been able to give something back that will help support other families when they need it most.”

If someone you love has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be hard to know how to be there for them. Find out how we can help, or call the Marie Curie Support Line to talk to our trained staff.