Light Up A Life at Home - The Mulcahy Family's Story
This year’s Light up a Life event although a bit different to normal will still be as special as always and we are delighted that this year we will be joined by a wonderful family with a very important connection to the hospice to switch on our lights on the hospice tree.
Margaret Mulcahy first came into contact with East Lancashire Hospice in 2010 when her father, who was in his late 70’s, attended day care at the hospice. He would come along for lunch to provide respite for Margaret’s mother who suffered from arthritis and to give her the time she needed to run the house. Margaret’s father who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer enjoyed getting out to see others and the support he received whilst doing so. Right from this point Margaret and her family felt incredibly well supported by the hospice. Sadly, Margaret’s father later died.
In 2018 Margaret’s husband Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer and whilst after his initial treatment his condition seemed to improve, unfortunately his cancer was too aggressive and a secondary cancer progressed into his bones. Just like Margaret’s father, Margaret’s husband Mike was very well supported by the hospice and Margaret recalls the close connection he built with one of the nurses in particular, Sophie.
Margaret said “Mike was a very jovial, fun character and a lovely man. He used to joke with Sophie all the time. Sophie was particularly good at controlling Mike’s pain management and as a retired nurse and midwife myself I used to keep a diary of all his medication and their effects which Sophie would refer to when looking after him”.
Whilst waiting for his final treatment at home, Mike started to become confused and developed Sepsis and unfortunately he became too unwell to be treated and was admitted to Hospital where Margaret and her son stayed by his side day and night. He was later transferred for end of life care and admitted to East Lancashire Hospice where Margaret says he was so well looked after.
After Mike died, Margaret said she received really good support from the hospice and would regularly receive phone calls to see how she was doing. It was through these phone calls that Margaret was advised of the Bereavement Support Group which she went onto attend on a regular basis. Margaret explained “we would sit and have lunch together as a group afterwards, it started off just a couple of us and over time more people joined until there were about 8 of us and we became friends. The volunteers and staff in Café Retreat were amazing nothing was too much trouble for them” Margaret went onto add that some of the group would often meet up outside of the hospice making visits to places such as Oswaldtwistle Mills.
Through Margaret’s attendance at the Bereavement Support Group, she discovered the Sewing Club run by Louise in Creative Connections within the hospice. Margaret went onto to join this group and made memory cushions from Mike’s favourite clothing including shirts many of which had been bought for him by his grandchildren. Sharing these beautiful creations with Margaret’s friends from the Bereavement Support Group encouraged one of them in particular, Alison to join too.
Since lockdown commenced, Louise from Creative Connections has been visiting Margaret and her family to continue sewing and Margaret explained that this has been really very helpful and that both she and her family are very grateful for this support.
More recently, Margaret’s daughter in law’s mother, Irene received end of life care at the Royal Blackburn Hospital before she later died which has been particularly challenging for her grandchildren as they have lost two grandparents within an 18 month timeframe. On this occasion the family were supported by Rossendale Hospice and having experienced the wonderful care that hospices are able to provide in general for families as well as the way in which they work in collaboration with the NHS and each other, the family now feel very passionate about raising awareness for these amazing charities.
In addition to the support Margaret and her family have received from Louise and Creative Connections, they have been able to participate in a number of the Zoom classed run by the hospice Support and Well Being Team throughout the pandemic. This includes the Quiz which takes place on a Thursday and is run by Vicky, Practitioner Creative and Support Therapy. On one particular occasion, Margaret was joined by her daughter in law Michelle and Granddaughter Neve aged eleven and together they scored particularly well thanks to Neve! Margaret said of this experience ‘This was a really lovely family thing to do together at a time when we all needed each other’s company and we loved it!”.
For the family, this year’s Light Up a Life event will be especially poignant and when Margaret and her family were asked to switch on the lights at the hospice for the Light Up a Life Event taking place on Monday 21st December 2020, she said “we felt humbled and blessed to have been asked to undertake such an important part of this special event which is an incredibly important evening for us as a family. I first took my mother to the Light Up a Life event after my father passed away and then my husband Mike. Our family are incredibly grateful to the hospice for all the support they have provided to us and in fact our gratitude is difficult to put into words”.