Justine and Rachel’s story
Our dad, Malcolm George Longhorn, was the most loving, kindest, generous, and thoughtful person. He was married to our mum, Pauline, for almost 60 years and he truly embraced life. He was always so upbeat and loved being surrounded by his family and many friends.
In September 2019, dad was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Initially when he received his diagnosis, dad wanted to protect us and therefore just dad and mum would attend his hospital appointments. That was dad, always thinking of us before himself. However, he did talk to us about his prognosis and what that meant, and he was fortunate to be able to have chemotherapy at St James’ hospital prior to Covid. We were lucky, and we were able to go with him as a family and we would sit and chat with a cuppa in hand while he was hooked up to the chemo machine.
Throughout the pandemic dad did receive some more chemotherapy and radiotherapy, then last summer dad was informed that although there may be some further treatment it would not necessarily prolong his life. Dad’s decision then was to focus on his quality of life for the 6 months he had left.
Dad and mum had, throughout his illness, managed to live a pretty normal life. He would often say how lucky he was. They would go out every day, and often for a coffee and a chat with friends in the local café. Dad also spoke about having a big party with family and friends but appreciated how difficult this would be, in particular for mum. Instead, dad and mum met with various family member and friends and enjoyed lots of quality time together.
Dad’s wishes were to stay at home for end-of-life care, which initially was quite a scary and daunting thought for us. However, St Gemma’s community team, particularly his nurses Alice and Hannah, were so reassuring and supportive and that gave us as a family the confidence to be able to do this. We could not have asked for anything more. Dad loved Alice and Hannah visiting. Their care and compassion is outstanding, and dad loved chatting to them about anything and everything, not just his illness. They really made us as a family feel more at ease and supported us so much throughout dad’s care.
At the start of November 2021, Alice confirmed that dad was at the end of life and that he may only have a couple of weeks left to live. St Gemma’s installed a special bed and various other aids and we stayed over with mum to help care for our dad. Being at home for dad meant that that anyone could call in to see him no matter what time of day it was. He never refused a visitor. Dad loved and valued his family, grandchildren, and friends. With dad being such a sociable person, meant this was perfect for him, being surrounded by his loved ones. Our wonderful dad passed away on 17 November 2021.
The aftercare support for our family provided by St Gemma’s has been amazing. We received various correspondence from St Gemma’s bereavement support team. I, Justine, did engage with the counselling service and it helped me talk through everything. I needed to speak with a professional and someone I did not know to help me manage my grief. It was very difficult at times but helped me cherish all the wonderful memories of my dad. I am incredibly lucky to have had such a loving and wonderful dad until he was eighty-two.
We wanted to share our story because the care and support we received from St Gemma’s community team was amazing. As we have said earlier, not only the wonderful care for our dad, but for us being supported as a family to care for dad at home. If there are any other families who do not know they can be supported with end-of-life care at home, they certainly can.