DERBY family man, Matt Ceiley, is running a marathon every month throughout 2021 in memory of his dad who received end-of-life nursing care from local hospice, Treetops.
NHS worker, Matt, 40, lost both parents within a few months of each other in early 2020.
“My mum, Jo (Joanna), was ill for a long, long time with early-onset dementia and died at the end of January 2020. My dad, Mick (Michael), devoted his life to caring for mum full time at their bungalow in Weston on Trent for over ten years.
“They’d celebrated their 50-year wedding anniversary in 2019. Dad was a keen gardener and he actually created a rose garden just outside mum’s window because she couldn’t go anywhere. He was devasted when she died.
“Dad was very old-fashioned, a ‘man’s man’. He spent some time as a grenadier guard as a younger man and then became a telephone engineer. He was 6ft 2, a big bloke and didn’t take any nonsense from anyone. He was a very strong character, but also very kind. He wasn’t one to get emotional or talk about things, so his kindness was demonstrated in his actions really.”
Not long after Matt’s mum died, as the country went into national lockdown, Mick, 73, started experiencing a lot of pain.
“My older sister, Sarah, a former district nurse, had picked up on his symptoms and raised concerns until he was admitted to hospital for investigations.
“Dad was diagnosed with cancer that they think started in his bile duct but had spread to his liver and kidneys and was at a very late stage when it was diagnosed.
“Everything happened very fast. When dad found out he didn’t have long left, he was very insistent that he wanted to spend his last few days at home and for Sarah to look after him.
“The whole family pulled together. My older brother, Steve, and I spent as much time with dad as possible and dad’s eldest granddaughter, Beth, also took time off work to help care for him. But it became evident, very quickly, that it wasn’t going to be simple looking after him at home.”
The family were quickly referred to the Treetops Hospice at Home Service.
“The Treetops nurses being there at night meant I could go home and Sarah, who had moved in with dad, could get some proper sleep.
“We also had support from the Treetops Roaming Nurse Service who were so quick to get there. There were times when dad needed pain relief or medication that without the Roaming Nurses, he wouldn’t have been able to have as quickly. All you wanted him to be was more comfortable.
Sadly, Mick’s condition deteriorated quickly, and he died at home a week after being diagnosed, as Matt explains:
“After that first night, when the Hospice at Home nurses saw how quickly he was going downhill, we had them every night. He only lasted five nights when he got home.
“We couldn’t have managed without the Treetops nurses. You think you can manage at home fine, but we were caring 24hrs a day. It’s physical and emotional, and it’s somebody that you love which makes it a lot harder. You’ve got to have that rest and respite.
“All the nurses were so compassionate, professional and knowledgeable, and very conscious of being in someone else’s home and being respectful. It was so important and meant we could trust their night-time care, get some rest and be there with dad at the end.
“I think you can’t take these things for granted. It’s only when you need these services that you realise how vital they are. There are some things you can do without, but hospice care isn’t one of them.”
Matt is a keen runner and completed his first fundraising marathon for the hospice on New Year’s Day. He’s already raised over £700 of his £2,000 fundraising target.
“I made myself have an early night on New Year’s Eve then set off on New Year’s Day on a planned route around Derby passing family landmarks such as the house we grew up in, Sarah’s house, Steve’s house and my parents’ final home in Weston in Trent.
“Sarah and Steve came outside to support me – at a distance obviously – and my wife and son met me with water at various points which helped break up the run for me.
“I got cramp in my hip towards the end but focusing on my parents and why I am doing this helped me finish. I’m really happy that the challenge is now underway and everyone has been very supportive.
“I intend to have about 5 days rest from running and then start planning a route and training for marathon number two on Saturday 6 February.
“I’m going to mix up my runs and do some on trails, depending on how the year goes and the weather. I’d like to do run the Three Peaks again with my cousin, adding on a few extra miles and running as fast as we can.”
Cheryl Morris, Treetops community relationships manager said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to Matt for taking on this amazing challenge and wish him the best of luck with each and every marathon! We’ll be following his progress and cheering him on throughout the year.
“Many people will be hearing in the coming weeks if they have received a place in this year’s London Marathon and the Great North Run. If you’re lucky enough to gain a place, we’d love you to consider fundraising for Treetops as without your support – without people like Matt – we simply wouldn’t be able to continue to offer our vital services to those in the local community.”
Matt’s JustGiving fundraising page can be found here.
Treetops provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions. Last year, Hospice at Home nurses provided over 28,000 hours of care across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.