Why Saint Francis Hospice was the best place my mum could be

Cecilia Hope was cared for by Saint Francis Hospice before she died on 7 November 2022. Here her loving daughter shares how her experience completely changed her views on hospice care.

Mum was my world, my best friend, my guidance. She was my everything. Our favourite song was My Treasure by Placido Domingo – the lyrics are everything about how I feel about her.

In July 2022 I noticed that she wasn’t able to eat much at a family BBQ and she said she was feeling low. She went to see her doctor and was sent for an x ray as she had tenderness in her stomach. The results showed a shadow on her liver and following a CT scan and a biopsy, the doctor came back and said, “it’s not good news, you have pancreatic cancer.”

Sadly, the pancreatic cancer spread to her liver. You think you are going to be going to be the one, that there will be some miracle. When the community nurses from Saint Francis Hospice visited us at home, they said Mum had two choices – she could go to hospital or Saint Francis Hospice. I said hospital but Mum said hospice. I remember trying to talk her out of it but Mum was clear – she wanted to go to the hospice. How wrong would I have been!

On the Tuesday in Mid-October when Mum was admitted to the ward for the swelling on her foot to be drained, it blew my mind. Whatever I thought it was going to be like, it was the opposite. There was warmth and it was homely. She felt comfortable and safe straight-away.

I sat with mum every day. It was so painful but it was a privilege to be there, it was an absolute honour. Nothing can compare to what they gave me during those 10 days she was on the ward. We had special moments in those last hours of her life. We had that privacy and the hospice gave us space while she was growing her angel wings. She brought me into this world and to see someone you love take their last breath is so heart-breaking special.

I have seen the Saint Francis Hospice orange sign a thousand times before but never really taken much notice. You do not realise the difference the hospice can make in one person’s world. It is a life changing experience to go through and to come away and to have no negativity is amazing.