Our Wheatfields Hospice at Home team cared for Danielle Gill’s mum Jean nine years ago. This year, she is taking on the London Marathon for Sue Ryder to say thank you. This is Danielle’s story in her own words.
As a child I spent pretty much every morning watching my mum put her make-up on. I was in awe of how she did it and fascinated by her neverending make-up bag. At that point in my life I could never imagine her not being here.
Even as I grew into my teens and started working, I never even wanted to think about a time when she wasn’t around. I was so dependent on her and we had the most wonderful relationship and friendship; we had our arguments like all mothers and daughters, but they didn’t last long.
“Our lives were turned upside down”
In 2008, our lives were turned upside down. Mum had been suffering with persistent symptoms of a water infection that, after six months, were finally diagnosed as bladder cancer.
CANCER!!!! A word that I never wanted to or imagined I’d use when talking about my mum. We had no history of cancer in our family so why did Mum have it? Just bad luck, apparently.
We had more coffees in Costa at St James’ oncology unit than anywhere else and, after an operation and chemotherapy, we were told on my 30th birthday that she was clear of cancer.
I was elated, as was Mum, especially when a few weeks later I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child.
“Wheatfields enabled Mum to have the end of life that she wanted”
Our happiness didn’t last long. Within a few weeks, Mum was experiencing terrible dizzy spells and, after investigation, it turned out the cancer wasn’t gone after all; it was in her brain – and it was just weeks later that she passed away.
Mum’s request was to be at home so Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice arranged community nurses to provide Mum with pain relief and general personal hygiene, and enabled her to have the end that she wanted.
She was always a lady with her dignity intact, and I firmly believe that, between us and the Wheatfields team, we enabled her to maintain that.
“My bereavement counsellor put me back together”
I was then left without my mum and about to become a mum myself with no reference point. I felt like falling apart many times and then I was put in touch with the Wheatfields bereavement team.
My bereavement counsellor Greg literally put me back together. I had weekly sessions with him until my son Jack was born and, even then, we stayed in touch.
When I became pregnant with my second son Joshua, I saw Greg again as pregnancy proved to be a difficult time for me.
I never thought I could live without my mum but I had no choice. I still believe that I was pregnant for a reason when I lost Mum. My boys have since been my reason for getting up every morning and living my life.
“I never knew about the wonderful work Wheatfields do until I needed them”
I never knew about the wonderful work that Wheatfields do until I needed them, and they proved to be amazing yet again when they looked after my brother-in-law Carl with the same wonderful care and attention.
In the London Marathon, I am taking on a challenge that I never ever believed I would or could achieve but, following my completion of the Leeds Half Marathon last year, I took the risk and applied.
I honestly can’t wait for race day now. I have trained hard with my running partner Claire and in the gym to strengthen my legs and core.
I will be imagining my mum is waiting for me at the end of the 26.2 miles and, no matter how hard the race is, it can’t be harder than what my mum experienced.
Danielle is aiming to raise £2,000 to thank our Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice for the care they’ve given her family.
London Marathon runner
Danielle’s mum Jean was cared for at the end of her life by our Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice at Home Nurses. She later received bereavement support through the hospice. She is taking on the London Marathon 2019 in memory of her mum.