"When cancer struck as a bolt from the blue, Sue Ryder provided the place where Jo felt truly safe"
Jo was just 42 years old when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Jo, husband Dave and their two young children, Louis and Hattie, were living abroad, but when she began to feel ill, they decided to return to the UK.
For a year and a half, Jo tried to stay positive as she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But, battling severe side effects, uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, she found herself having to spend more and more time in hospital, which made her feel anxious and deeply unhappy. Sadly, it soon became clear that Jo was not going to get any better.
The family contacted their local Sue Ryder hospice, and Jo was able to start coming in for treatment to control her pain and give her family some respite.
Peace of mind for all
"When cancer struck as a 'bolt from the blue', Sue Ryder provided the place where Jo felt truly safe," recalls her husband Dave. "Jo knew that by being at Sue Ryder she couldn’t be anywhere better. This provided her with strength and a peace of mind when she had accepted that things wouldn’t get any better.
"Her bedroom used to look out onto the cow field, which made her smile," he remembers. "She called it her ‘Cow TV’ and she was able to watch the children playing in the beautiful gardens."
Over the three weeks leading up to Jo’s death, the nurses made sure there was always an extra bed in Jo’s room, so that Dave and Jo’s sisters, Annabel and Nikki, could take it in turns to stay over, and she never had to be alone.
"Nothing was too much trouble"
"Nothing was too much trouble to make all of us as comfortable as possible," adds Dave.
Initially Jo and her family had hoped she would only have to stay at the hospice for a short while, but her illness worsened. Then came the phone call Dave was dreading: Jo had taken a turn for the worse.
Their local vicar had been there and spent some time with Jo before leaving her to spend her final minutes with her husband. Unable to speak, but comfortable and pain free, Jo passed away peacefully with Dave and her family by her side.
"The hospice gave us all the strength and support to be strong for her, for ourselves and for our families," says Dave.
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