“Ultimately, the love we felt in the room was because we were able to be together as a family”

Kay Backhouse’s brother, Syd, died at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in February 2019, aged just 35, after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Here, she talks about the care and support the whole family received during such a difficult time.

Kay and Syd
Kay with her brother Syd

A massive shock

“Syd had been having a few health issues, but when he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer after a hospital scan on his 28th birthday in 2011, it was a massive shock.

“He had an operation a couple of months later and they were able to remove most of the cancerous cells and he led a pretty good healthy life for about two years. Unfortunately, though, at a follow-up appointment in 2014, the doctors found that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, and they gave him a prognosis at that point of two years.”

Desperate for help

By the winter of 2018, Syd’s cancer had spread extensively and he was admitted to Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in January 2019.

“Manorlands for us was an absolute godsend because we’d never had a family member, particularly a young family member, who was going through this kind of situation and we were desperate for help.

“From the day Syd was admitted to the hospice, mum never left. For six weeks she didn’t put her shoes on or go outside and rarely left his room.

“She got a lot of comfort from the complementary therapy service offered by the hospice and was able to have aromatherapy treatments and reiki. On the days she was really struggling that really gave her the lift she needed.”

“We were encouraged to bring anything that would make the room feel more comfortable”

“The nurses were so unbelievably kind and caring and dealt so well with what was a very, very difficult situation for all of us. We were encouraged to bring in anything that would make the room feel more comfortable for Syd and for us. I bought in some essential oil diffusers to provide some comfort and a nice atmosphere and he usually had his music on.

“Ultimately, the love we felt in the room was because we were able to be together as a family, and the hospice provided us with the environment to be able to do that. Me, my two brothers, my parents and my husband were all able to spend the last 24 hours with him.”

Giving something back

Five months after Syd passed away, and with the support of her husband, Kay opened a restaurant in Settle - Sydney’s - and continues to support the hospice through collection boxes, donations and raffle prizes.

Her brothers Ben and Dylan have completed a 20-hour charity cycle which raised over £6,000, and her parents make an annual donation to the hospice to give back for the care Syd received.

Kay and her dad
Kay with her dad after giving him a model car auctioned for Manorlands Hospice

An emotional moment

Earlier this year, when a limited edition Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR model car signed by Sir Stirling Moss was being auctioned in support of Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, Kay was the winning bidder.

“It was a particularly special purchase as my dad and Syd had a shared passion for motorsport and cars. Stirling Moss was one of my dad's greatest heroes and I could sense my brother saying to me ‘you just have to get that for dad’. So I did and I surprised him.

“I don’t often see him cry, but it was an emotional moment for both of us. And the beauty was we were able to donate to Manorlands at the same time!”

Find out further information on Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help support them.

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