Earlier this year, Yvonne Murray sadly lost her husband Tim to pancreatic cancer. Described as an intelligent and thoughtful man, Tim was a dearly loved husband, father of three and ‘Grampy’ of eight. Following his diagnosis, Tim was introduced to City Hospice who cared for him in the final year of his life, in addition to supporting his wider family.
Whether cooking up exciting, new dishes to enjoy with his wife or playing with the grandchildren in the garden, retired IT consultant Tim loved spending time at home surrounded by his family.
Tim’s wife Yvonne said: “Home was the centre of Tim’s life and he much preferred to be at home with family than out and about among large crowds. We were so grateful that when Tim became ill, he was able to receive care at home. It was a huge comfort to him.”
Originally presenting pre-diabetic tendencies, Tim, who was not one to do things by halves, embraced a series of lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. However, this unfortunately masked the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. So, when a routine diabetes blood test showed indicators that were concerning, Tim was immediately referred to UHW.
Tim felt very fit except for what he called a ‘grumbly tummy’, and so his family were in complete shock when a scan gave rise to the initial diagnoses of inoperable terminal pancreatic cancer on 10 December 2018. Tim’s diagnosis couldn’t be confirmed until April 2019, due to difficulties obtaining a biopsy and so only then could chemotherapy begin.
Tim was referred to City Hospice in January 2019. Talking about the care he received, Yvonne said “He was put at ease at the initial meeting at our home with Dr Margred Capel, Clinical Director and Consultant in Palliative Care Medicine and Clinic Nurse Specialist Catriona Seed. Although Tim was a very private person, he developed a wonderful connection with Catriona which allowed him to open up and explain truthfully how he was feeling, both physically and emotionally. This enabled Catriona to take on the role of liaising with doctors and district nurses, organising medication for pain relief and symptom control.
“Catriona also liaised with Racheal Roberts, the Occupational Therapist at City Hospice, so that practical equipment could be accessed, which made Tim’s end of life a little easier to endure, as he was very weak and found walking difficult in the final weeks, but could maintain his independence at home.
“Catriona helped us through all the difficult stuff and reassured Tim that she would always be at the end of the phone when needed. She could explain all the latest advice on pain medication and symptom control, which was important to Tim as he wanted to remain at home. He trusted Catriona, which is why he was able to discuss an end of life plan and these conversations prompted him to share his wishes for his funeral to be a celebration full of colour and his favourite music. We were so lucky to be able to honour his wishes before the lockdown restrictions came into force and celebrate his life the way he wanted.”
In addition to the care Tim received, including reflexology, Yvonne also accessed support from City Hospice during her husband’s illness.
Speaking about the charity’s counselling service, Yvonne said: “While Tim was ill, I was also caring for my elderly mother and looking out for my children and grandchildren. Visiting City Hospice for my reflexology and counselling sessions gave me a sense of calm at an overwhelming time.
“My counsellor Jayne was fantastic, and I felt she understood me completely. Jayne helped me work through my feelings of anger, sadness and despair. The service was invaluable; it helped me accept what I could not change and to prepare for the future.”
Tim passed away peacefully at home with Yvonne by his side in February this year, the day before his 73rd birthday. When his family visited the next day, the couple’s children presented Yvonne with Tim’s birthday gift: a binary star named after the couple so they could be together forever. To say thank you to City Hospice this Autumn, the family will be donating and dedicating a virtual star in the sky in Tim’s memory.
A donation made during the Light Up A Life campaign will make a world of difference to a family facing terminal illness in our community. To donate visit http://www.cityhospice.org.uk or call 02920 524150.