The C word – Cancer – is something that unfortunately everyone is touched by it at some point in their life.
For me, it was my Dad, my hero, 1/4 of the family team.
It’s two years since he passed away and three years since he was diagnosed with brain cancer, but anyone who’s bereaved will tell you it never really heals or goes away, you just have to adjust to it as best you can.
My Dad was so positive, so full of life, so in my head he’s always smiling, dancing, singing, being silly.
Of course, life wasn’t as rose tinted as I imagine it sometimes, we argued (obviously) as clearly a teenage girl and her Dad aren’t always going to agree on what age you can dye your hair, how late you can be out, what to wear, the importance of wearing full make up before leaving the house.
There were also several appearances of my Dad’s ‘face of doom’, but we soon ruined his attempts of being sullen by laughing at him or each other. Even now, my house is always full of laughter, singing, silliness. I can’t really imagine it being any other way.
If death, or loss, or cancer does one good thing it makes you appreciate family and friends – the people that stick by you no matter what.
That doesn’t mean you have to be positive all the time. You have moments when you think it isn’t fair or disbelief that it happened.
The other C word in the title is Cornettos, these were my Dad’s favourite during his time with cancer.
To this day I have no idea why he ate them by the box full. Yes, they taste alright, but to Dad they were an essential part of his diet during his final 10 months. He liked them before the cancer, but this was the next level!
He wasn’t bothered by the fact he ate them by the box load as his logic was they were small, therefore had no calories in them. Makes total sense right?
This time shaped my family into who we are today.
Despite all the support in the world, some days are hard and it’s okay to admit that. Sometimes the hard days turn into weeks and the weeks become months and it gets harder to get yourself out of the miserable mindset that you start to view life from.
But everything happens for a reason and while I still have no reason that will ever be good enough to explain why my Dad got Cancer, there still is a reason.
However during Dad’s illness we experience SO much kindness, from friends, family or complete strangers. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall embodies this kindness for me. It’s stupid to say people are kind, as we are all aware of that, but I’ve never witnessed kindness like the staff at Thorpe Hall showed to our family.
Nothing was ever too much trouble. They took care of Dad, made my brother a birthday cake so we could celebrate together as a family as Dad was too unwell to leave the hospice. I’ve never experienced the kindness from strangers, nurses and staff that Thorpe Hall gave to our family. Whilst it was only ever Dad with the cancer, we were all given the same attention and care.
The new hospice is perfect for its purpose, but I’m not sure it is my Thorpe Hall. Yet Thorpe Hall is more than a building, it is the values and warmth of the staff and volunteers.
It’s Ursula comforting me when I was crying, it’s Shelia making me a hot chocolate at 2am and dancing in the kitchen, it’s Ray checking on Dad, it’s Maria making my Mum laugh, it’s Rosmary offering to give massages and my Dad asking “is that legal?!”
Those wonderful people are the heart of Thorpe Hall, the reason it is one of a kind. I can’t imagine anyone could never be as loving, caring and kind as the wonderful people who work for Sue Ryder.
They are the family you didn’t know you had and we are so lucky to know them and so grateful for their ongoing support.