Childhood had not been a happy time for her. Somehow she had survived to adulthood, and she was able to make her escape. Moving to another country, eight hours flight away. Leaving her family history behind her, she embarked on her new life. It wasn’t easy to start with, the language barrier especially hard with English being her third language. She worked hard at her job, and took extra English lessons. She made good friends with a bunch of ladies, the sisters that she had always wanted. For the first time in her life, she thought she was happy.
That all changed one fateful night, she was out with her girls, and he was out with his boys. They met each other and both of their lives changed. They had found the loves of their lives, and what she thought was happiness before, was nothing compared to what they were like when they were together. A fairy-tale romance, she had found her prince, they soon married. He was seven years younger than her, but it didn’t matter, his family accepted her as one of their own, she had found out what the real meaning of family was.
They wanted a family of their own, and tried very hard, they tried a few cycles of In-vitro fertilisation, but were unsuccessful. They were considering adoption when her abdominal pain started. She had been losing weight but thought it was due to stress and working long hours. It was a horrible day when the doctors found that she had pancreas cancer. Unfortunately when pancreas cancer finally reveals itself, it has likely already spread, to the liver, to bone, to lung. An incurable, life-limiting situation. The cancer doctors spun into action, and soon it was a whirlwind of tests, procedures and chemotherapy. Harsh treatments which were hard to recover from, but she was cared for lovingly by her husband.
Further bad news when the Oncologist said that there was poor response to treatment. Her pain was worsening, and she continued to lose weight. The doctor talked about a referral to hospice. Isn’t that where people go to die? Yes, and no was the answer. They are really good at controlling symptoms and improving quality of life, that is why you are being referred.
The doctor was right, the hospice staff came to visit at home, and they were helpful. They seemed to know what they were doing and managed to control the pain well. It wasn’t just the nurse and doctors, they had a whole multi-disciplinary team who were all keen to help. The counselling was new for both of them, and felt a bit awkward to start with, but it was helpful over time. The social worker was keen to help them with their financial situation. She couldn’t work anymore, and they still had their mortgage to pay. They were introduced to Advance Care Planning, not because the hospice staff thought she was imminently dying, but as a standard thing that they did with all of their patients.
Having metastatic cancer was still difficult but the hospice involvement did make things more bearable. Pain was controlled, stuff that had worried both of them was seen to. They felt that they could relax at times. Things were not good, but they were not as bad as they could’ve been. They tried to make the most of each day.
Their life still being lived.
Suddenly, with no warning,
Everything changed and,