St. Luke’s Hospice has launched its annual ‘Light up a Life’ appeal, giving people the chance to come together to remember a loved one, while also supporting St. Luke’s Hospice with a donation in their name.
This year, the charity is delighted to reintroduce their much-loved Light up a Life remembrance services to take place across our local community.
In addition, a special radio dedication show in partnership with Gateway 97.8 and Basildon Hospital Radio (BHR) 87.7 will be aired on Sunday 19th December. A Light up a Life online dedication page is also now available to upload photos, memories and messages.
The appeal is supported by Daphne Harvey, who is sharing her story and explaining why she and her family are going to ‘Light up a Life’ with St. Luke’s Hospice this year.
“There are times in our lives when we have to make hard decisions. When we do, we may not always get it right. But to care for my dear husband, Keith, at home with care and support from St. Luke’s Hospice was absolutely the right decision for me and my children.
“It all started when Keith was driving to the Civic Offices in Grays in spring 2019. He’d been there before but he asked me for directions, as he’d completely forgotten the way. A couple of weeks later I remember he stood in the kitchen, holding his head, and said ‘Something is not right’. He’d just made himself a third cup of tea in a row.
“Off to A & E, we went. Keith was admitted with fluid on the brain. He had further tests and MRI scans and two days later he was transferred to Queen’s Hospital in Romford. Four days later, Keith had a biopsy on a tumour in the centre of his brain. We waited ten days for the results and it was devastating news. A Glioblastoma – a form of brain tumour – grade 4 with two–six months left of life.
“Keith’s health started to deteriorate almost immediately. He had weakness in his legs, as well as experiencing memory loss and frequent fits. Keith was re-admitted to hospital to get the fits under control and for the team to consider referrals for radiotherapy. On discharge and after several visits to the oncologist in Southend, we were given some hope that Keith might be able to receive radiotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, on the day his first dose was due, the decision was taken that he would not benefit from it so this was stopped.
“I knew at this time that I was going to need help, so we reached out to St. Luke’s Hospice.
“The team from the Hospice was like a well-oiled machine. Equipment started to arrive, carers started visiting and paperwork was put in order. The Hospice’s OneResponse phone number became my lifeline. I could ring for help at any time – day or night. We went from having carers visit Keith twice a day to four times a day, with two carers at every visit. I could also call the Hospice team to help arrange overnight care whenever I needed, so I could catch up on my own sleep, knowing that Keith would be safe.
“I could not have asked for any more. The support we got as a family was insurmountable. The carers did not only care for our Keith, they also gave me no end of support. They became like friends, not strangers entering my home.
“In August 2019, after more than two years of planning, one of our daughters, Zoe, was due to get married. I knew that her dear dad would not be walking her down the aisle as we had hoped. After discussing between us, her eldest brother offered to carry out the honour on Keith’s behalf. It was a very emotional time for us all, but again St. Luke’s Hospice was there for us and the team started to put a plan in place to arrange respite care so that I could be at the wedding.
“Sadly, Keith passed away on 25th July 2019 – the night his daughters were flying to Barcelona for Zoe’s hen do. I was adamant that they should still go, just as Keith would have wanted. We all knew he was now at peace.
“Zoe’s wedding went ahead a week after Keith’s funeral. We tried very hard to make the day a happy occasion. Zoe had open heart surgery when she was just 3 years old which saved her life, so we all felt she deserved a day to remember.
“I am so grateful to have had the support of St Luke’s Hospice, and the team of nurses and carers who supported us – one of whom was with me by my side when Keith passed away. I cannot thank them all enough for the help and support my family and I received.
“With the support of St. Luke’s Hospice, I could make the right decision for me to care for Keith at home.
“By making a donation to Light up a Life this year, your donation in your loved one’s name could help another family like mine get the support they need to make the right decision for them.
“Thank you so much from me and on behalf of the teams at St. Luke’s Hospice for your support. It really does mean so much.”
Visit stlukeshospice.com/light-up-a-life or call 01268 524973 to make your ‘Light Up a Life’ donation and dedication today.
Special thanks to Adam & Greenwood Funeral Home, Bennetts Funeral Directors, T. Cribb & Sons and West & Coe Funeral Directors for supporting Light up a Life 2021.