Maureen Mahoney, from Downham died at St Christopher’s Hospice on 17 October 2017 from Ovarian Cancer at the age of 75. She was with her three children, Lisa, 48, from Bromley, Jane, 51, from Sidcup and Billy, 53, from Bromley. Lisa and Jane took part in the Twilight Walk to raise money for the hospice and on the anniversary of the day their mum died, Lisa and Jane came back to St Christopher’s to talk about their fundraising efforts.
Lisa explained, “We had looked after mum throughout her illness and one night we were with her and her pain had become so unmanageable. We finally called St Christopher’s and said we just didn’t know what to do as the thought of coming into a hospice terrified mum, and the nurse told us that she would come round and talk to mum herself, which she did and asked her simply what her wish was. Mum told her that she just wanted to not be in pain anymore but that she was scared of coming to the hospice. The nurse explained to mum that by coming to the hospice they could sort out the pain she was suffering from well enough to be able to go home again, which she agreed to.”
Jane continued, “We arrived on the Friday night and Professor Rob George came round the next day and helped to sort out the pain and by the time he came around the day after that, mum had had such an amazing boost, it was like she’d been given a second wind. She looked amazing, she was out of pain, she’d had a bath and had just been looked after. Professor George said to mum that obviously it was her wish to go home once her pain had been managed but, just by spending a couple of days at St Christopher’s, her whole outlook on the place had changed and she said ‘I don’t want to go home. I’m out of pain and happy here’.”
St Christopher’s gave us the most important thing, which was to be able to spend time being mum’s children rather than her carers
“We basically lived in the inpatient unit for two weeks with a bed either side of mum. The staff treated us so well. Up until then we had been caring for mum at home, which was such a tough thing to do, but those last two weeks when we were at St Christopher’s were some of our best memories with her, despite the fact that she was dying.”
Lisa said, “Obviously it was so sad when mum died and it still hurts to this day, but we could not have wished for anything more. For example mum adored the sun and one day it was so beautiful outside and we said to the nurse that we wished mum could enjoy it more and she just said ‘well let’s go then’ and just like that they organised for mum to be taken to the garden. It was wonderful.”
“The support we were given was so important. By understanding what to expect as she was dying, even down to the changes in her breathing meant that we were so much better prepared and it took away so much anxiety for us. Especially for our brother Billy, who would often be out of the country with his work, one of the most important things was understanding when mum was in the final stages.
The nurse advised us that it wouldn’t be long, so we called Billy, who was making his way to the hospice, this knowledge meant that we were all there with mum to see her before she died, she was surrounded by her children, which was what she would have wanted.
“St Christopher’s gave us the most important thing, which was to be able to spend time being mum’s children rather than her carers. For the first time in ages we had laughter, which created so many happy memories for us and just showed how much weight had been lifted from all of our shoulders. It was magical. Without St Christopher’s everything would’ve been so different and our grieving process would’ve been so much harder.”
Jane said, “We first heard about the Twilight Walk in an email from St Christopher’s and instantly knew we wanted to take part. In the run up we were so excited. The walk was great and the route was brilliant. It felt like we were starting the marathon and there are so many lovely buildings and sites along the way and it was such lovely day. It just felt right being there. There was such a great feeling knowing that we were all there walking and raising money for the same cause. Mum had been in Lewisham hospital and had made friends with another patient there and when Lisa put on Facebook that we was doing the walk she wrote back to her and said that she wanted to join us in doing it in memory of mum too, which was amazing. We were also joined by another friend Sue.”
“Initially we wanted to raise £200, which we raised really quickly so we raised it to £2,000 and we got such a buzz from fundraising that we just wanted to raise it higher. So when we reached that target we moved it to £3,000 and in the end we raised over £3,000, which is more than we ever hoped for when we started. People are just so generous and Billy gave us a really generous donation too as he couldn’t be there. Passers-by were even trying to give us cash as we were doing the walk.”
“We’ve also just had confirmation from Billy that he has received a place for the London Marathon and will be running for St Christopher’s. We’re all so keen to support St Christopher’s in any way we can.”