Mo’s husband Mick was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in June 2013. Mick started treatment immediately but sadly he died a year after he was diagnosed. Mo cared for Mick at home during his final days.

Photo of Mo and Mick

 

Mo's experience

Ten days before Mick died he told me that he’d like to die at home rather than in the hospice where he was being looked after. For me, this was a very important request. In our earliest conversations about being prepared I’d promised Mick he could change his mind about anything at anytime and I would do everything in my power to make that change happen. So as difficult as this might be, I said I’d do my very best to get him home.

He felt really confident that he would not be in any pain at home. He hadn’t suffered any pain for weeks. If something flared up, I had everything I needed on hand and we were only half an hour away from the Marie Curie on-call team.

When Mick came home, it was quite scary knowing that there would be no nurses or doctors around – there was only me. We had carers who came in two times a day to help me. We were also assigned an overnight carer who would be there for Mick so that I could get some much needed rest. The hospice told me I could call them anytime day or night if I needed to.

At home, it was quite scary knowing that there would be no nurses or doctors around – there was only me.

 

Getting care at home

We had to fight to get the care at home that we needed. Quite honestly, it was a difficult process. But the care team at the hospice helped us sort this out. We got a 12 week care plan approved. This involved an overnight carer three or four nights a week, two carers twice a day, hospice at homecare, and a district nurse every morning.

Mick's final week

In Mick's final week he saw many of his friends from around the country and also those that flew in from America. He was eating well and chatty right up to the final evening.

We’d thought a lot about how we wanted to communicate with family and friends as I couldn’t cope with relaying the same information over and over. I asked my step-daughter, Karen, to communicate on my behalf if I wasn't up to it.

We’d thought a lot about how we wanted to communicate with family and friends.

I’d set up an e-mail group of wider family and friends including people overseas. I’d update people and then read all the replies to Mick. He liked that as he knew that people were thinking of him.

When Mick died

Mick’s breathing got weaker and it was obvious what was going to happen. I sent the night carer home so it was just us – I didn't want a stranger there. I managed to half lie on the bed with Mick holding his hand and stroking his head to comfort him.

Photo of Mick

Mick’s breathing got weaker and it was obvious what was going to happen.

When Mick's breathing became slower and deeper, I called the hospice and they talked me through what to expect and how to deal with things. It was 8.15am on a Monday so they placed an urgent call to the hospice at home team. They were with me in 20 minutes.

At the same time I called a very good friend who dashed round to say his final goodbye and to take care of me after Mick had died.

Mick died very peacefully indeed. He just slowly stopped breathing and then he was gone.

Mick died very peacefully indeed. He just slowly stopped breathing and then he was gone.

My tips for family and friends

  • It was very difficult to get the care we needed so that Mick could die at home. But I’m really glad we did – I know I did everything I could to help him have the death that he wanted.
  • Death can be peaceful. I was so worried about Mick being in pain or that I wouldn’t know what to do. But in the end, Mick’s death was very peaceful. Talking to the doctors and nurses and knowing what to expect was essential.
  • Have a close family member or friend on-call. I didn’t know whether I’d want to be alone with Mick in his final hours or whether I’d want someone with me. Knowing there was someone who I could call – day or night – and who would be round in half an hour was really reassuring.

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