"St Catherine’s reunited us as mother and daughter"
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Victoria Hornby's world was turned upside down when her mother Elaine received a terminal cancer diagnosis.
The 37 year old from Penwortham admits there were times when she felt completely overwhelmed and frightened about her mum's final days.
She could never have then anticipated how the help and support of St Catherine' s Hospice at Walton le Dale would make such an enormous difference to both their lives.
She said: "Making the choice to move from hospital to St Catherine’s Hospice was the best decision my mum made for her quality of life at the end of her life."
Elaine Hornby was diagnosed with cancer in June 2018 and had her first chemotherapy in August of that year. She suffered a rare side effect and developed a blood clot in her right leg which resulted in her having to have her leg amputated from above the knee in September 2018.
Victoria said: "It was then only two weeks after the amputation she was told she only had months left to live. Cancer is scary and heart-breaking enough on its own, but coupled with a life-changing operation which meant she couldn’t walk meant that her care needs were even more complex."
She recalled: "When we got to the hospice we were both scared of what was going to come – absolutely petrified. But St Catherine’s enabled me and my mum to support each other through the worst time of both of our lives.
" I would end up in tears, worried about those final days and final moments. I didn’t know what to expect. But the nurses would reassure me and try their best to prepare me for what was to come. They freed me up to be a daughter again – allowing me to spend every moment with my mum and maximising that quality time we could spend together. St Catherine’s reunited us as mother and daughter."
Memorable highlights included fish and chip Fridays, the chance to enjoy a takeaway and watch TV programmes together on Saturdays and her mum's pleasure in the view of the hospice gardens from her window. A visit from Victoria's boxer dog Mia was another highlight.
Victoria said: "I would end up in tears, worried about those final days and final moments. I didn’t know what to expect. But the nurses would reassure me and try their best to prepare me for what was to come.
"They freed me up to be a daughter again – that’s what they were there for, to relieve me of some of that pressure of being a carer, allowing me to spend every moment with my mum and maximising that quality time we could spend together. St Catherine’s reunited us as mother and daughter."
She continued: "They also made us an amazing afternoon tea for Mother’s Day. They went above and beyond to provide something enjoyable for us on what was actually such a sad day, because we both knew that was going to be our last Mother’s Day together. It meant the world to us, and it’s something that I will remember and be grateful for forever.
"It sounds so simple; but washing her hair, having it blow dried and styled, it’s those little things that you take for granted but that really put a smile on my mum’s face. It just made her feel human and somewhat normal again. "
The hospice chapel became a special place for Victoria. She said: "Whilst my mum was sleeping I would often visit it to light a candle for her and just sit there and reflect. Since losing my Mum, the chapel has become a place of comfort to me and somewhere I can go to remember her and to light a candle in her honour, look at her name in the book of condolence and write a butterfly card for the special memorial tree.
"My biggest fear had been that my mum would suffer at the very end, but I was with her, holding her hand to the moment she took her last breath, and I know she wasn’t in any pain. "
Elaine, from Penwortham, was 55 when she died and Victoria said: "I feel lucky I had my mum for 34 years of my life but I also feel robbed and wonder why life is so cruel. Despite this heartache, I would never have such precious and actually happy memories from what can only be described as the toughest times of our lives, if it wasn’t for the care and compassion of St Catherine’s. It’s so important to regularly donate, even if you just give the cost of a takeaway each month, because you never know when something like cancer is going to affect you or one of your loved ones, and when you might need the help of this wonderful charity."
* St Catherine's serves people living in central Lancashire. Its Regular Giving campaign slogan is Big Issues, Small Details, Make A The Difference. The hospice hopes to sign up 400 new donors and says they will: "help St Catherine’s to look after the Big Issues, take care of the Small Details, and Make All The Difference to local families." It is the first time it has run a Regular Giving appeal and follows a 50 per cent drop in donations and income from community events during the pandemic. Chief Executive Lynn Kelly said: “It’s about us developing regular and resilient income streams that are able to cope with a fluctuating economic environment.The pandemic really highlighted we need these resilient income streams that form the bedrock of our finances.” To give a donation from just £5 a month visit www.stcatherines.co.uk or call 01772 629171.
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