We got to spend some lovely, special moments with our Mum
Caroline Barnes remembers her wonderful mother, Gwendolyn Haigh. Despite having terminal bowel cancer, she went on a Caribbean cruise and their family got to enjoy a special Christmas together with her at the Marie Curie Hospice, Bradford.
“Mum and I were very close. She was a very independent person with a strong opinion on most things.
“All her life, she tried to stay healthy. She watched what she ate and exercised regularly. She opened the first fitness instruction studio at the health centre in Bradford. It was a cause very close to her heart.”
“Dad had died when he was 64, a couple of weeks before he was due to retire.
Mum battled on. She loved to travel, and she made an interesting life for herself.”
Not letting her diagnosis hold her back
“My mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2015. After two operations, she was told it was terminal and that there was nothing further they could do.
“She was booked onto a Caribbean cruise in November with my brother, his partner and their daughter – so she focused on that. She was really looking forward to it.
“When she came back, she had lost a lot of weight but had clearly really enjoyed herself.
Finding the help we needed
“I took Mum to the Marie Curie Hospice, Bradford on 4 December. Her condition was so bad I hired a wheelchair and disabled taxi to get her to the hospice.
“I felt pretty desperate at that stage, but the staff took charge and arranged for a room immediately. As much as I was dreading the prospect, I was also extremely relieved to find help so readily available.
“I think she thought she was still on her cruise with all the five-star treatment she was getting!”
Five star treatment
“Mum was in the hospice for Christmas Day. It was a bad day for her in terms of her own health, but the staff were so lovely and couldn’t have done more.
“I took in a tree and her room was lovely – lots of cards everywhere. She was so much more cheery at the hospice. She was beaming.
“I think she thought she was still on her cruise with all the five-star treatment she was getting! The staff were so caring and considerate, showing my Mum the upmost respect.
“Over the five weeks she was there, I found the place to be an oasis of calm, a haven from the stresses of the rest of the world.
“It gave my brother and me the opportunity to spend some lovely, special moments together with our Mum.”
The lucky ones
“Everything else was put on hold during that time and although parts of it were very emotional, my overall lasting impression is of how privileged we were to have such expert care and love at the end of her life.
“We were the lucky ones, and I know my Mum would have wanted to pass on her thanks and appreciation for the wonderful level of care afforded to her.”
Caroline plans to donate proceeds from the sale of Gwendolyn’s furniture to Marie Curie. Find out more about our Bradford hospice, or how you can help make sure more families like Caroline’s are able to spend Christmas the way they want to – together.