Widow urges people to back brilliant hospice appeal
PUBLISHED: 09:17 29 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 29 October 2017
While St Peter’s Hospice’s care is second to none, it is a place for terminally ill people and miracles are scarce.
For the McMullan family it proved to be the home for Ian during his final days in 2016 – his widow Ruth cannot stop singing the hospice staff’s praises.
Ian was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer osteosarcoma in 2012, but despite having chemotherapy it spread to his lungs and then onto his lymph glands and jaw.
However, it spread further to his spine and meant just a day after coaching his son’s sports team, he was unable to move.
Ruth said: “He literally woke up one morning and he was paralysed.”
She continued to do whatever she could for Ian but with his pain levels increasing, the hospice’s care at home team felt Ian ought to spend his final days at St Peter’s.
The thought of leaving their family home in Clapton-in-Gordano ‘terrified’ Ian, according to Ruth.
She said: “The thought of sharing a room worried him, because he had a difficult time with hospitals.
“He was worried about losing his dignity.”
Ian was a very proud man, according to Ruth, and such was the excellence of care and environment provided for him in his final days, she said he was still able to be himself.
Ruth arranged it so either her or her brother-in-law was always with him, but she knew Ian could not have been in safer hands.
She said: “I just knew when I left, that I would not have to worry about him being neglected and knew that everything would be provided for him – the staff were fantastic.
“He was a character and when he was in there – even though he couldn’t move – he was still chatty and made jokes.
“Him being taken in at St Peter’s was like someone lifting a massive boulder off my shoulders.”
Ian received one of St Peter’s best rooms where Ruth could stay overnight – however that is something the hospice could not often offer at its inpatients’ unit.
Its Room To Care Appeal – which seeks £1.5million over the next year – will mean the rebuilt unit will see every room have an en-suite, a place to sleep for guests and fully opening windows so patients can not only see the beautiful gardens, but have their bed wheeled outside.
Ruth believes it will make a ‘huge difference’ to patients and families.
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She said it gives a sense of privacy and means you can be yourself without worrying about being too loud and disturbing fellow patients in your room, or so you can have quiet time together as a family if you prefer.
Ian was a managing director at Canada Life Investments and the privacy meant his colleagues could come and visit him.
Ruth is keen for everyone to benefit from that level of support and is urging people to back the appeal as a result.
She said: “I used to drive past (it) two or three times a week when I lived in Westbury-on-Trym and never realised what went on there. I hoped I never would be in there one day but it’s a much nicer world than going to a Bristol hospital.
“Supporting the appeal is the best thing I can do, given what it did for us.”