Simply the best (better than all the rest)
Miracle Malcolm. That’s how he came to be known. By family and by staff at St Luke’s.
For over several weeks, it was a rollercoaster ride for Lily Watson (Malcolm’s wife) and her family. Malcolm was diagnosed with lung cancer. While at home, he started having seizures, which doctors later diagnosed as brain cancer. He was brought to St Luke’s Hospice in early August 2017.
In the hospice too Malcolm used to fall into comas often but came around after several hours or a couple of days. Every time he went into a coma, his family thought it was the last time. Uncertainty is the worst feeling.
Malcolm loved Christmas. Lily describes Malcolm having the excitement of a child even in his seventies. When it became clear that Malcolm wasn’t going to make it to December, the family decided to organise Christmas at the hospice, on 13th August one of the hottest days that summer.
About four days earlier Malcolm went into a coma. The St Luke’s medical staff and his family were not sure if Malcolm would be able to celebrate Christmas. The clinical and administrative staff at St Luke’s helped Malcolm’s family in organising Christmas at the Woodgrange day centre in the hospice, arranging decorations and catering for an elegant 3-course dinner.
There were loads of friends and family members of Malcolm’s who came over for the celebrations. Lily and her family were hoping against hope. Around midday, Malcolm surprisingly, regained consciousness.
Lily said, “Christmas time always held a significant meaning for Mal. It was such a lovely day and everyone at the hospice helped us make it a special day for Malcolm”.
Those few weeks at the hospice were the toughest times that Malcolm and his family went through.
Lily and her daughters took turns in staying overnight with Malcolm in his room. His grandchildren loved coming to the Hospice to play with grandad and chat away for hours.
Malcolm said that St Luke’s felt like a home away from home with the staff being so caring. Lily said, “Malcolm liked being the centre of attention. He felt much loved at the hospice”.
One night when Lily was in the room with Malcolm, he wanted to hug her. Lily, being disabled, couldn’t reciprocate while vulnerable Malcolm lay on the bed. The staff soon arranged for a special bed to be brought into the room where Lily could lay beside Malcolm. “It was one of the most loving and best moments of my life”, reminisced Lily.
Through sheer will power Malcolm got himself fitter and fitter every day just to have the ability to go home. After spending fifty days at the hospice, Malcolm was able to go home.
Something beautiful remains
After a few weeks at home Malcolm's health grew worse and he went into a coma again. He was brought back to the hospice after 3 weeks at home. That evening, after having been a coma for four days, Malcolm drifted away peacefully in his sleep.
“It was a sad time for all the family, but it was also a tranquil moment that I could not have wished for to be any better. Malcolm felt no pain. He was at peace”, said Lily.
“Everyone here at St Luke’s made the whole experience amazing. And I mean everyone, from the cleaners and admin staff to the nurses and doctors. The best thing I can say is that Malcolm was happy here”, said Lily.
Power of love
Kelly, Malcolm’s and Lily’s eldest daughter spent a lot of time at St Luke’s hospice. During the quiet nights when her dad was sleeping in his room, she used to walk the corridors chatting with the nurses, doctors and staff. It was during those quiet times that the seed of a purpose was planted in her heart and mind.
Inspired by the stories and first-hand experiences of the nurses at the hospice, Kelly decided to undertake a specialist course to train as a palliative nurse. In a few years hopes to come to St Luke’s Hospice as a nurse to provide care and love to others – the same love and care that her dad received.
You’ll never walk alone
Recently, Louise, Malcolm’s granddaughter undertook an inspirational activity herself. In a society and at an age where how a person looks tends to be highly rated, Louise, just fourteen, shaved her head and raised money from her friends and family for the hospice. What’s more, she even donated her hair to Little Princess Trust which makes wigs for children with cancer.
"I cannot thank your team enough for your constant help with my Malcolm especially during those times when he went into those long sleeps. The hospice staff were a constant help not only to my husband but also to me, especially at times when I was there on my own at night”, Lily said.
"It’s terrible to watch someone you love struggling to breathe at the end of their life but thanks to the hospice support it was as nice as it could be during an upsetting situation. Your help and support has been beyond words."
Lily Watson and her family have supported St Luke’s Hospice since its early days, organising a boot sale in the car park, or fundraising and donating in various other ways.
She says, “St Luke’s Hospice has a special place in the community. It relies on the generosity of individuals for almost two thirds of its funding. I strongly believe, everyone should support it in any way he or she can”.
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