I recently won the ‘Most inspiring colleague’ award within the Dove House Retail department and I still can’t believe it! I don’t see the journey that I have been on as anything more special than anyone else’s but it sure is nice to have my hard work noticed. Every day I come to work with a smile on my face and happy to get stuck in.
I started working at Dove House as an Assistant Manager in 2014 at the Marfleet charity shop and loved it. We are one big team and I genuinely feel part of the Dove House family even though I am not physically at the hospice.
Life was going well, and my partner and I were planning our wedding. It was so exciting but in October 2017 I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor and by December I received the phone call everyone dreads. I had the tumor removed shortly after but because I no longer have a pituitary gland I am on life dependent medication which leaves me with good days and bad. Everyone at the Marfleet shop and the retail team were so kind to me and helped me through a time I never expected to happen (I don’t think anyone ever does).
A little while later my partner was diagnosed with lung cancer. We decided to keep to our wedding date as everything was already planned and paid for. However, he unfortunately died just 13 days after we married. How could my whole world have changed so much in such a short space of time? If only I knew it was about to get worse.
My youngest sister Rachel was then diagnosed with cancer. Her pain became unmanageable, and she was determined she didn’t want to die at home. Her wish was to come to the hospice. As soon as she arrived they sorted her pain levels so she wasn't suffering. We can't thank all the staff for the care Rachel received. She even had complementary therapy whilst at the hospice which made her feel special, she was always quite glamorous so as the cancer took hold she couldn't wash her hair or have a bath, the nurses did this for her. They are all amazing. She spent the last three weeks of her life in such a lovely and warm place where we were all looked after.
I think the biggest thing that really struck our parents about Dove House was actually the littlest of things. I arrived one day to my dad telling me he had tried to top up my sister’s TV but couldn’t as it was free. The relief of the hospice taking care of the small things helped us all to cope. My parents were living in their own nightmare, losing a child. To not have to think about anything other than just being there for Rachel helped them to muddle through.
From her diagnosis to her death it was only eight weeks. It was really hard for us all to get our heads around, especially for her two girls. The hospice’s family support team has been a lifeline for them.
I can’t believe in such a short space of time I have lost my husband and my sister. They both had such contrasting deaths, and the impact that has on those left grieving is enormous. There is a huge difference between watching a loved one die at a hospital to a hospice. When my husband was at the hospital it was very clinical, rushed and like I was just sitting there watching it all unfold in front of me. Whereas when Rachel was at the hospice everything felt personal, the care given was for the whole family the entire time. We felt part of everything.
Dove House has been incredible to me as an employee and as a family member of a loved one. The retail team has been there supporting me, giving me time to come to terms with things, and helping me to be able to go to work. I continue to give my everything to my work as I have throughout but their help has meant the world to me. I now work at the Greenwich shop and cannot see an end to my time at Dove House any time soon.