In 2008, at the age of 53, Caroline Dixon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She became really unwell and was admitted to Newham General Hospital. From there it was suggested she spent some time at St Joseph’s Hospice where her pain could be controlled and she’d have more freedom to spend time with her family and receive expert care.
Her daughter Nicola takes up the story from here.
My lovely mum was brought to St Joseph’s Hospice and spent a week on St Michael’s Ward. She always spoke like she was going to get better, but she knew she was dying; maybe it was for us but we all knew.
The nurses were wonderful, so caring. She had been living with my sister who cared for her throughout her illness but she sometimes felt guilty asking for help, so when mum came to St Joseph’s she seemed really relaxed.
My mum loved to be glam and the nurses painted her nails and massaged her skin with cream. She was comfortable and so well cared for at St Joseph’s. When it came to the end of her life there must have been about 20 members of her family with her in the room, her daughters, siblings, nieces, nephews and parents; we’re a close family. She died comfortably surrounded by the people she loved.
I remember that after she died we all went to the Garden Room at the hospice. We spent the whole evening there, no one rushed us out or asked us to leave, we were told to take our time and it really helped.
The care from St Joseph’s didn’t stop there. A year after my mum died I had 12 weeks of bereavement counselling which was brilliant. Two years ago I found myself still struggling to come to terms with it all so, once again, I turned to St Joseph’s and amazingly they offered me further counselling, 5 years after I lost my mum!
Fast forward 2 years and I married my long term partner and soulmate Steve Jones. We had the best day we both could ever have dreamt of. We both have no doubt that the support and care from St Joseph’s for both me and my mum helped us on our journey over the last 7 years.
We wanted to say ‘thank you’, so the favours for our guests were St Joseph’s pin badges, bought for a small donation.
The guests loved them and pretty much everyone wore them in memory of mum. After hearing the speeches, one of our ushers announced that he was going to start a collection for St Joseph’s. This was completely impromptu. We were both touched and amazed by everyone’s generosity. When we counted it the next day we found that our guests had donated a total of £420!
It’s difficult to think that any good can come from losing your mum at a young age, but it has brought me and my dad closer together. She would be happy about that. Knowing that mum spent her final moments with my sister Maxine, me and all of her family is a comfort to us all. We are all hugely thankful to St Joseph’s for helping to make that happen.