25 September 2022

A gift in memory- Helen’s story

“I wanted to bring comfort to other patients at Southampton Hospital”

After losing her father, Helen made an incredible donation in his memory for C2 Cancer ward at University Hospital Southampton. She explains:

“My Dad, Christopher and my Mum, Pamela, are both retired accountants and over the last two years have both been treated for cancer at Southampton Hospital.

During 2019 my Dad started to become increasingly unwell, and in early 2020 he was diagnosed with undifferentiated metastatic carcinoma of the chest wall.

After a significant decline in his health during July 2020, my Dad was no longer able to move independently and found speaking very difficult, and therefore was taken to University Hospital Southampton.

Unfortunately, he was admitted to the hospital at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, so nobody was allowed to visit him. The nature of his cancer meant that he had several open wounds on his chest which resulted in him having an E. coli infection. Due to this, for his entire stay in hospital he had to be isolated in a private room

The idea of my Dad spending the last two weeks of his life alone, with no meaningful human interactions has been incredibly difficult to process. I would like to think that the TV in his private room provided him with some form of company, and even if he couldn’t follow any programmes, simply seeing people and hearing voices I hope made him feel less alone in his final few weeks.

Unfortunately, a few months later my Mum, Pamela, became unwell and was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

A lymphoma cancer that was then found to have spread to her breast, stomach and hip. My Mum then picked up a C. Diff infection, which meant that she also had to be isolated in her own hospital room for long periods of time.

Although this was at a point when Covid-19 was more under control and PPE wasn’t so extreme, she still couldn’t have visitors when she was first admitted

Although this was at a point when Covid-19 was more under control and PPE wasn’t so extreme, she still couldn’t have visitors when she was first admitted

Although she was more able to talk to us throughout her treatment, in a way Dad wasn’t, she was often very lonely being moved between rooms on her own. Mum would see staff throughout the day for blood tests and chemotherapy, but she would still be on her own for significant periods of time.

 

Some of the private rooms she was moved to either didn’t have TV’s or they had TV’s which you had to put your credit card details into. This infuriated me, as when people are going through the type of treatment my mother was going through, the last thing you want them to be thinking about is sorting out payment to watch the TV.

I strongly believe that just being able to turn on a TV and having noise in the background would have provided some company, at a time when she was on her own going through gruelling treatment.

Having both parents go through these similar experiences on the cancer wards at Southampton Hospital made me realise that I wanted to do something that would have an immediate impact.

Of course, research and investment into cancer treatment is crucial, but I needed to do something to help the quality of life for those people who are confronting the challenges both my parents have faced. So, I got in touch with the hospital charity to make a donation to buy TV’s for all the private rooms which needed them, in hope that nobody who is ever faced with isolation whilst being treated for cancer will feel completely alone.

I make this donation in memory of Mr. Christopher McCann who was the kindest, most loving Dad and husband. My mum, my brother, Paul, and myself were blessed to have him in our lives, and we miss him in a way that words cannot express.”

With the money Helen kindly donated to Southampton Hospitals Charity, four TV’s have now been purchased for C2 ward and Hamwic House at the hospital.

 

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