"Coming to the Hospice made such a difference"
Jane McCafferty was just 34 years old when cancer took her life. Mum to Harvey, she spoke to us about the difference staying at Thames Hospice made to her and her young family, as well as her magical wedding day in our Sanctuary.
“I was pregnant with Harvey when I noticed a lump in my breast. After I gave birth, a biopsy confirmed it was cancer. I had my breast removed and went through radiotherapy and chemotherapy, then continued to have regular scans.”
Jane lived in Slough and first experienced Thames Hospice when we offered her relaxation therapy when she was going through a difficult time emotionally. She said: “I had an awful lot going on in my head and the therapy was absolutely fantastic. I have recommended it to so many people over the years.”
Jane started to get a lot of chest infections and colds. For nearly six months, she kept visiting her doctor and was given antibiotics, but she suspected something wasn’t quite right. “I was sent for a chest x-ray and that’s when they found a lump in my lung,” explains Jane.
Jane’s lung was removed, but unfortunately more and more bumps started to appear - too many to treat individually. She said: “I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy again, but the treatments were pushing me in the wrong direction and making me worse. I was so tired, in a lot of pain and my body wasn’t coping well - that’s when Thames Hospice was recommended to me.
“At first I was very stubborn and I thought I knew what it meant to be in a Hospice. I always thought it was a ‘waiting room’, but once I came in and met all the care team, my view completely changed. The Hospice is bright and welcoming and feels like a home from home.”
When Jane and her family arrived, they were shown The Sanctuary. This is a unique spiritual addition to the Hospice which gives visitors somewhere to reflect, think or to simply have peace away from the Inpatient Unit.
“The Sanctuary is gorgeous. My family was gobsmacked when they saw it and instantly our minds were put at ease. I was feeling really low when I arrived and in the space of just one day, getting the rest and sleep I needed, I felt so much better.”
Thames Hospice helped Jane with respite care, symptom management and pain relief. However this is not the only way the Hospice supported the family.
Jane met Chris when she was 17 and always planned on getting married. When they realised that the cancer was progressing more quickly than expected, Chris decided to speed things up.
Jane said: "Chris proposed on the Wednesday, I said yes, and we got married two days later on the Friday!” Amazingly, within the space of 48 hours everything was organised. From Jane’s family flying in from Ireland, to her sister Katie buying the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses and Chris finding matching rings, everyone played a role in helping make the day perfect.
Jane and Chris were able to hold their reception in The Sanctuary. Jane thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day; from getting ready at the Hospice and people coming out of their rooms to congratulate her, to the beautiful wedding and then having all her family around her at the celebration. Jane said: “I was overwhelmed at how nice it all turned out. Everything just slotted into place. It was lovely and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
But more importantly for Jane, she tells us: “My son Harvey was very excited about the big day and has been so content visiting me here. He has played in the garden, watched a movie on the big screen in The Sanctuary and loves the bird house in the garden. This has been really happy experience for him which has been the best thing for me.
“Coming to the Hospice was a turning point and has made such a difference. It has all been perfect.”