“The care is marvellous, everything you could wish for and more.”
Richard (Rick) Jones, aged 74, and his wife Sally are being supported by the Thames Hospice Palliative Care Team, after Rick was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2018.
Rick and Sally first met in May 1969. He explains: “We met, dare I say fell in love, and got married. The rest is history.” The happy couple recently celebrated 50 years together: “We still celebrate our engagement anniversary, which most people don’t, but we have been married 49 years this year. I think that is quite an achievement!”
Rick and Sally have lived together in Langley for the past 50 years. Before his retirement 10 years ago, Rick enjoyed a long career in sales: “I enjoyed selling, meeting people and travelling around the country. I still miss it. I ended up selling mobility scooters and wheelchairs for the elderly and disabled, which is quite ironic as now I need to use one myself! It was a very satisfying job being able to help people.”
In September 2018, Rick started to experience chest pains and noticed a sudden loss in weight: “The first thing I noticed was my watch became loose on my wrist., I weighed myself and I had lost a couple of stone. That was how it started, but then I got chest pain, so Sally made me a doctor’s appointment.”
After having several tests and x-rays, Rick was diagnosed with terminal lung and bone cancer. Rick says: “It was a little bit of a surprise but I suppose it’s got to happen to somebody. I don’t quite know how you are meant to feel when you get cancer, but I still feel fine. I get chest pains and become breathless, so if I want to do anything it becomes quite hard work.”
Rick was originally given a prognosis of 18 months: “I have hit the 18 months now, how much longer I have I do not know. It’s just a matter of keeping going as long as you possibly can”
After his diagnosis, Rick was later referred to the Thames Hospice Palliative Care Team. His wife Sally explained: “We first received a call from Thames Hospice asking if someone could come and chat to Rick. I expected him to be very reluctant but after speaking to Rick he said ‘the more help the better, just bring it on’. That was when we first met Katie.”
Katie is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Thames Hospice. Our Palliative Care Team visit patients in their own homes, to provide care, give advice and offer emotional support to both patients and their loved ones. The service allows us to provide the same high standard of nursing and compassionate care that we offer in our Hospice; making the patient feel more comfortable and at ease while in familiar surroundings.
Rick says: “Staying at home gives you peace of mind. You’re away from medical people too, which for me is good. I would be very reluctant to go anywhere that isn’t home now.”
Sally adds: “In a sense it helps me more than Rick. Katie is very good. She is really helpful and organises loads of things for us, such as medication, steroids and prescriptions. When you’re stressed it really helps having someone to sort it all out.”
As well as caring for patients in their own homes, Thames Hospice has a 24-hour palliative and end-of-life care telephone service to give advice to patients and their families. Sally describes this as a ‘god send’ for them: “Katie gave me a phone number and it saved me. You can ring the number any time. I used to get scared on a Friday knowing there wouldn’t be anyone I could call at the hospital over the weekend.
"Just the other weekend I was worried about Rick as he started having seizures, I rang the number for some advice and two nurses came out right away. They assessed him and called the doctor out. When they left they said I could ring them any time, even in the middle of the night. They are always there. I just think it is wonderful.”
Rick is still receiving care from Thames Hospice, as well as from his oncologist and the specialist nursing teams at his local hospital: “The care is marvellous, everything you could wish for and more. I don’t think there is any room for improvement. It is quite incredible, everyone goes over and above what is needed. They do what is necessary, when it’s necessary and to the best of their ability. That is all you can ask for.”
Since sharing their story, Rick sadly passed away in May 2020.