Alan Arthur, from Newcastle, is taking part in Light up a Life this year to remember his wife of almost half a decade, Pat, who was 74 when she died at St Oswald’s.
The Hospice has been a place of familiarity for the family, as Pat’s brother-in-law, John, had used their Day Hospice services before being admitted to our Adult Inpatient Ward for end of life care. Pat and Alan felt St Oswald’s was a place they wanted to be, Pat first started coming to the Hospice for treatment of her lymphoedema, which had been caused by cancer treatment. Pat spent her final days on our Inpatient Ward in May this year.
“My wife and I spent 49 years together and I often wonder how the years went by so quickly. We were very happy and enjoyed a full life with three children, two grandchildren and we even have another two grandchildren on the way.
It was in September 2014 that we were told the news that Pat had cancer. She had lots of different treatments including chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiotherapy. The chemotherapy resulted in swelling in her arm, which was diagnosed as lymphoedema. It was then that Pat attended St Oswald’s Outpatient Clinic as a lymphoedema patient.”
As Pat’s condition deteriorated, she made the decision to only have end of life care.
“It was at Christmas last year that Pat decided to only have palliative care, a decision I fully supported. In April, after receiving hospital treatment, Pat wasn’t strong enough to go home so we were very thankful that a bed was available at St Oswald’s. The staff were fantastic and very reassuring that Pat’s pain would be managed and any concerns addressed.
Pat spent three weeks at the Hospice, receiving the best care from staff who had time for her. She even spent some time in their craft room where she made a silk scarf. We were very positive that she would go home for a short while; the hospice advised us about equipment that was needed, such as a hospital type bed, and delivered it to our home. The day after the bed was delivered Pat’s condition deteriorated and she died just two days later at St Oswald’s.”
Since Pat’s death, Alan and his family have supported the Hospice by holding an auction after Pat’s funeral, taking part in their Lantern Walk event, and Alan is now taking part in their annual remembrance event, Light up a Life.
Alan explains why he is taking part:
“I’m taking part in Light up a Life to support St Oswald’s, but it’s also an opportunity to focus my attention on thinking about Pat. Every day there’s possibly 20 things that remind me of Pat and I think about her and then get on with my day, but with the Light up a Life service I know I’m guaranteed to spend an hour where I can focus my thoughts just on Pat and our memories.
It’s not only me who likes to remember Pat, but our family too. My granddaughter Annabel, who is five, is a constant reminder of her. She used to call her grandma her best friend and likes to talk about her whenever I see her.”
Anyone can remember a loved one by taking part in Light up a Life, whether they have a connection to St Oswald’s or not. Once a donation has been made in memory, supporters will receive their card and star, and will be invited to attend the remembrance service in December. The uplifting service will feature musical performances from Newcastle Concert Band and Urban Chorus. As part of the service children will be invited on stage to sing a festive carol if they wish. Family, friends and colleagues are all welcome to come along to the service too.
Light up a Light aims to raise over £100,000 to help us to continue to support adults and children with incurable conditions from across the region.
Anyone who would like to be part of Light up a Life can call St Oswald’s fundraising team on