39-year-old Helen Daniels is taking on both the 5K and 10K in one day at Bedford Running Festival in September. She’ll be running in memory of her mum and to raise funds for the hospice that cared for her, Sue Ryder St John’s in Moggerhanger. In this blog post, Helen shares the driving force behind her double running challenge – the difference the hospice’s Palliative Care Hub made to her mum and family, helping her mum be at home.
Sue Ryder is simply an amazing organisation. Without them, I believe our last few days with Mum would have been very different.
Mum was admitted to hospital early Christmas Day morning with suspected pneumonia. We were advised she may not make it through the day but she surprised everyone and managed to pull through. While she slowly recovered, we learnt she actually had sepsis but things were on the up.
After two weeks in hospital, we were ready to take her home and she started to deteriorate again. They yet again tested for pneumonia and on the 10th January we received the news she had cancer that had spread and that it would more than likely be a matter of days so treatment was not an option.
We allowed ourselves a few moments of shock whilst waiting for help with the next steps. The palliative care team talked us through all options and we decided the best option was to bring Mum home. She never really liked to talk about death or her wishes, but the one thing we knew was that she wanted to be at home.
"Without Sue Ryder's support, we would have been lost"
With help from many different people, we took Mum home the next day and, soon after we arrived home, the lovely carers from Sue Ryder St John’s Palliative Care Hub arrived.
When we left the hospital, one of the kind nurses took time out after her shift to tell me about the huge amount of drugs we had been given but told me district nurses would help; sadly, due to it being a weekend, they were not due to come out until the Monday, unless urgent.
We felt very overwhelmed by the task ahead but, thanks to the care and support given by the Sue Ryder team - both those that visited and the Sue Ryder Nurses on the phone - we coped; without them, we would have been totally lost.
"The hospice means so much to us"
The help and guidance they provided in those last few days was invaluable. They took amazing care of Mum, doing all they could to try and ease the pain she was in. They checked on my Dad and I, even offering a shoulder to cry on when it all got a bit much one day.
We were offered night stays, which we would have taken them up on had things not been so fast. I cannot imagine how valuable this is to people caring for loved ones on their own as sleep was a struggle with two of us to take it in turns.
As Mum deteriorated, the visits increased, which meant Dad and I never felt alone. There was always someone at the end of the phone when any issues arose.
The care given was amazing and the hospice means so much to us. Their care allowed my Mum to be in her own home with us around her for her last few days.
Sue Ryder allowed my Mum to be in the comfort of her own home, with her family around her. The care she received was second to none and allowed her dignity.
"I want to make sure as many people as possible are given access to the care my Mum received"
Without everyone involved in the running of Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice and their Palliative Care Hub, Mum would have not been at home for those last few days - and they were so precious to all members of our family, but especially Dad and I, as we may not have been able to be with her when she passed away on the 16th.
Regular fundraising is needed to ensure everyone is offered the outstanding level of care Mum was given, and this has inspired me to start fundraising. I want to make sure as many people as possible are given access to the care my Mum received.
Everyone should be entitled to such amazing care at the end of their life and I hope this ensures everyone has access in the future.
That’s why I'm starting with the 5K and 10K at the Bedford Running Festival, both on the same day. It is the first time I have done something like this, but it won’t be my last.
"I'm doing this for Mum"
I am doing this for Mum. She was a very caring and giving person who did a lot for charities in her life and I know she would be proud of me; I know she would be spurring me on if she was here so I keep that thought with me at all times when I am training. She would also want us to raise as much money as possible as she said how brilliant all the nurses were.
Friends and family are getting involved too, through sponsoring, signing up to run with me or volunteering on the Sue Ryder cheer squad on the day. I'm so grateful for their support.
Inspired by Helen's story?
It's not too late to join her at the Bedford Running Festival as part of Sue Ryder's Team Incredible
Daughter of patient
Helen took part in the Bedfordshire Running Festival 2018 and in this year's event as well, in memory of her mum Elizabeth and to raise funds for her local Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger.