Helen’s story

Helen shares her family's experience when her mum was supported by St Ann's

My mum, Mary, was in St Ann’s Heald Green. I was brought up in Didsbury and spent 30 years there, so had heard of St Ann’s but our paths with the hospice never crossed. We had family in Heald Green who we visited regularly, but until mum was admitted I didn’t even know where the building was.  

During summer 2016, mum spent weeks at local hospitals before they discovered ovarian cancer had spread to her brain. She lost her vision in one eye and her mobility was poor, so the team responsible for her decided a hospice would be the best place to look after her instead of coming home. They called us to say a bed had been found at St Ann’s and explained how lucky we were to get one. Why, I wondered, surely anybody so poorly should be entitled to a hospice bed? 

A hospice in my mind had always meant end of life care, somewhere where you go to die. And although that’s what happened to mum, the staff looking after her never made us feel like mum was dying. As well as caring for very sick patients, care is also given to patients who can get better and return home, which was something I was unaware of.  Helen

From the moment she arrived at the hospice she was at ease, being cared for by the most attentive, professional, caring staff. They suggested new treatments and pain relief – giving us hope to keep going. It was only when nothing further could be done that the doctor explained they were going to change plans in terms of her care. It all felt very natural and things happened at their own pace. 

There was a lady in the bed next to mum called Pat and she and my mum became pals. They would laugh together and share stories over a drink from a volunteer who would bring the drinks trolley round in an evening. Special touches which meant so much. 

Mum’s mobility was very poor, but at the end of the corridor was access to a little courtyard where we spent time talking and mum could get some fresh air. She was a nature lover so we were so grateful to have this. 

I remember visiting mum one day and as I walked towards her bed it hit me just how poorly she was and I found it too much. A lovely nurse took the time to sit and talk to me for what felt like ages, holding my hand and distracting me with positive conversation. At such a lonely time it meant so much. St Ann’s is filled with staff like that. Although they have their challenges, patients and visitors wouldn’t know it, they are helpful and cheery. 

Since mum passed away, I now realise that not everyone is lucky enough to find a bed at a hospice. There just simply aren’t enough hospices around to care for people like my mum and so we have to look after these services and try and help where we can, which is why I’m joining this year’s Light up a Life Appeal in memory of my mum.  Helen

They rely so much on donations, so I try where I can to raise funds and also offer my time as a volunteer as my way of thanking the staff for their hard work looking after mum. I’m taking on the Manchester half-marathon again this October. Although it’s only a small amount of time and fundraising I can help with, together with all the other volunteers and donations we can make a difference.