Claire Quirk-Kermeen - Patient Relative

“As mum deteriorated further I spoke to the nurses looking after mum that evening and explained I was scared to be on my own and they said they would take turns to stay with me and mum all night. I was so grateful not to be on my own.”

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“My mum Karen Dorothy Quirk was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in January 2020.

She started RCHOP chemotherapy in February 2020 which consisted of 6 rounds of chemotherapy every 3 weeks which continued through lockdown and meant mum had to shield as she was immune compromised. We were so thankful that the chemotherapy continued through the pandemic and to all the hospital staff and district nurses that were able to support and care for her while receiving treatment. 

After mum had completed her treatment, we travelled to Liverpool Royal for a pet CT scan and we were advised the treatment had been successful and she was in remission! We were absolutely over the moon she had kicked cancers ass!

In May 2021 mum started to get pain in her legs and trouble moving her bowels. Numerous trips to A&E, Mandoc and her GP, she was told to take laxatives and treated for deep vein thrombosis. Until July when she became unable to look after herself the pain became unbearable. She was evicted from her supported living accommodation where she resided due to mental health issues. An ambulance was called and she was admitted to hospital where further tests were taken and a biopsy taken from a lump on her leg which confirmed the cancer had, unfortunately returned.

In August, we travelled to Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool where the care she received was absolutely amazing! Further tests were taken which confirmed the Lymphoma was already stage 4 and widespread and if mum has any chance of kicking cancers ass again, they needed to go in strong and fast. Unfortunately, she picked up an infection which meant they were unable to continue with cancer treatment and the treatment was doing her more harm than actually fighting the cancer. We were advised that there wasn’t anything more they could do and would just have to make her comfortable.

That day my world fell apart. I was in Liverpool and all my family were back home in the Isle of Man. I didn’t want mum to see me upset as I know it would upset her. From that day onwards until the day she passed away we never told her how poorly she actually was as we didn’t want her to lose hope that she would recover again.  My husband then came over and met us in Liverpool as well as her sister.

We were told that they didn’t think she would make the weekend and she wouldn’t be strong enough to make the journey back to the Isle of Man. Millions of questions were going through our head….

How will family say goodbye? What happens if she passes away in UK? How do we get her home?

A Palliative Care Nurse came and spoke to us and gave us the options of what we can do. Our main priority was to get her home to the Isle of Man.

Sunday came and she had improved slightly, she wasn’t needing as much oxygen as previously before, which they said would be one of the reasons, they couldn’t transfer her by air to the Isle of Man. This was our gap to get her home.

On Saturday I called up Hospice Isle of Man who confirmed they had a bed available for mum and mums palliative care nurse had to do a referral to them to get the ball rolling.  On Sunday as soon as I seen a glimmer of hope we could get her home, Clatterbridge did the referral and we travelled back to the Isle of man by air ambulance on Tuesday 28th September 2021 to Hospice.

What can I say!

From the moment we arrived at Hospice we were made to feel welcome. We were brought to mums room which was Andreas. They followed my wishes which was to not tell mum where she was. It’s nothing to do with Hospice but the stigma with Hospice is that it is where you go to pass away. Personally, I felt it wouldn’t be good for my mum’s mental health to know where she was and our priority was that she was comfortable and peaceful.

I can only describe all the staff at Hospice as walking angels. Nothing was ever too much trouble and everyone was so kind and caring. My mum wasn’t the easiest of patients and they were so patient with her and would go above and beyond to help her. My mum spent 12 days in Hospice and every day they kept me up to date with mums care.  We let our children come to see mum as it cheered her up and Issy who was 8 at the time and Robby was 6 years old wanted to spend as much time as they could with their Nana Karen who they knew was very poorly. One day the care assistants brought them some colorings paints and pens to draw Nana Karen some pictures to put on the wall in her room.  The nurses also gave us guidance on how to speak to the kids about the situation which was so helpful.

The day before mum passed away, we were advised she had deteriorated and they didn’t think she was would survive the day. My mum’s sister, and her nieces all came to see her to say their goodbyes. Unfortunately, my husband Danny wasn’t able to stay with us that night due to childcare.  As mum deteriorated further I spoke to the nurses looking after mum that evening and explained I was scared to be on my own and they said they would take turns to stay with me and mum all night. I was so grateful not to be on my own. 

Mums breathing started to slow down and I was really struggling….I didn’t feel like I could watch her gain her wings but the nurses told me she was peaceful and to stay. I am so thankful she told me she was peaceful and wasn’t in any pain so I held her hand and told her how much we all loved her. My mum gained her wings on Monday 11th October 2021 at 4.15am age 57.

After she passed away, I wasn’t rushed to leave and they let me spend some time with her. They then advised me what I needed to do and gave me some information.

Our journey with Hospice didn’t end there.  While mum was in Hospice I spent some time with their counselor Kathy who I have continued to see up until today. She’s on the end of the phone and will send messages to see how I’m doing. She even referred me for some complementary therapy in Hospice and I have been to see Janet for 3 aroma therapy massages which were amazing.

There are not enough words to describe have thankful me and my family are for Hospice. And to help somewhat to say thank you, my children Issy and Robby have since started fund raising for Hospice by raising £225 for taking part in the Hospice Big Swim!”

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