"We got to see the team he loved one last time"
Thames Hospice knows that many people facing serious illness prefer to be cared for in their own homes. Our Community Team allows us to provide the same high standard of nursing and compassionate care we offer in the Hospice; making the person feel more comfortable and at ease while in familiar surroundings.
When Ary was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was adamant he did not want to be in a hospital or inpatient unit. Our Community Team was able to support Ary so he could remain at home, surrounded by loved ones. Ary’s wife Vivan tells his story.
“Ary was just 66 and a healthy, active man. We went on holiday last September to Turkey and he was as fit as a fiddle - swimming, diving and walking. We came back from there and went away to visit family. Although Ary was fine, he started to get a little breathless.
“When we returned home I suggested he visited his GP. Ary was reluctant to go, so I made the appointment for him. The doctor took some blood for tests and asked him to go for an endoscopy and scan.”
When Ary and Vivian went back to get the results, the consultant gave them the earth-shattering news that Ary had inoperable terminal cancer. The aggressive cancer was already in his stomach and had spread to his liver.
Vivian continued: “My husband asked how long he had to live. The consultant told us that he didn’t think Ary would make Christmas, which was just three weeks away. As you can imagine we were devastated.
“The first thing we did was phone our family. Ary’s wish was to stay at home no matter what, so I promised I would do everything in my power to achieve that. My son and daughter-in-law and our two youngest grandchildren moved in with us so that they could support me, supporting Ary.”
Vivian explained: “Thames Hospice came to our house to discuss what support they could give. At first Ary was very stubborn and thought he could cope without any help, but as he got to know the nurses, his confidence grew and he soon realised that they would do the very best for him and me.”
Ary was able to stay at home throughout his illness and enjoyed visits from his other grandchildren, family and friends. “It is so much nicer when you can have people come to visit you in your own home,” said Vivian.
“The Community Team gave Ary a lot of comfort to know that he would have his symptoms managed and, more importantly, his pain controlled. Having their help was also such a great support to me. If I was worried about anything I could just text or phone to get information and the back-up I needed.
“The Thames Hospice nurses are experts in palliative care and can deal with any issues immediately. The nurses spotted a chest infection and quickly dealt with it with antibiotics. They noticed when his feet were starting to swell and explained the best ways to help.
“But the nurses did something even more special. Thanks to their support Ary was also able to watch his favourite football team play one last time.”
Ary was short of breath and needed extra oxygen, so the nursing team organised a portable oxygen concentrator so he could go on a trip away from home. Vivian recalled: “We went to Wolverhampton to visit family and Ary was able to see the Wolverhampton Wanderers play. We were kindly given a box so family were able to join him and we all watched the team he loved together.”
The family were also able to spend two Christmas Day celebrations together. Vivian explains: "When Ary was given just three weeks to live, we decided we would bring Christmas Day forward by a week. We opened presents with family and ate a traditional lunch with all the trimmings. Ary survived an additional week so we enjoyed a second celebration on the real Christmas Day.”
Ary died at home in Vivian’s arms with his family around him. “It has given us such comfort that he had the death he wanted. Both of the grandchildren who stayed with us before he died talk about him all the time, in a happy positive way.”
Ary did a bungee jump to raise funds for Thames Hospice. Vivian and her family continue supporting us and for Ary’s funeral they requested donations be made to Thames Hospice in lieu of flowers. Vivian said: “I am so very grateful to everyone at Thames Hospice – the nurses have been lovely and given such fantastic support. Thank you."