In the middle of April this year we admitted Alison (Hannah’s mum) into our Inpatient unit. Alison had been diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2016 which she bravely fought with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. While wearing her ‘Wonder Woman’ tiara she was given the great news that she had overcome her cancer and was in remission. Unfortunately she then had a recurrence in March 2020.
Husband Gordon took early retirement and was to remain a rock at Alison’s side, together with children Andrew and Hannah. Alison loved having her family around every day. From that point onwards, the family continued to live life to the fullest making the most of their time together, including overnight stays in their favourite hotel in Prestwick.
Alison was always keen to put her family first. Two exciting things happened in December 2020—firstly, a new member of the family was introduced in the form of a lovely puppy called “Maisie” who quickly became the love of everyone’s lives. Secondly, there was the renewal of Alison and Gordon’s wedding vows on Hogmanay that year.
Throughout this journey. Alison’s family did an amazing job of supporting Alison to stay at home. However, in April 2021, changes in Alison’s wellbeing made it impractical and she came into ACCORD’S Inpatient Unit. Not only were Alison’s needs met, but those of her family were too, as they participated in relaxation and became regulars in ACCORD’s community Zoom calls.
We were all amazed by how courageous Alison was and she told us that her next goal was for her daughter Hannah to have the best 21st birthday ever. Alison and her family talked about this to the team at ACCORD with ideas, plans and wishes being bounced around.
As time passed by and Alison’s condition changed we started to discuss the option of having an early birthday party so Alison could still be very much involved. Alison, Gordon and Andrew started hatching a plan to get Hannah a surprise present of a wee red Mini and on the 10th May it was decided that we would go ahead with this surprise party.
In true ACCORD fashion, we rose to the challenge. With the ideas coming from the Inpatient Unit staff and the practical application coming from our very talented ‘Umatter’ team, we created a beautiful party room with balloons and fairy lights. This was to be complemented with an afternoon tea, Victorian style, including Alison’s favourite – strawberry tarts.
Alison, Gordon and Andrew were fully involved along the way, providing the most beautiful poster of Hannah made by a family friend which finished off the room decoration. Invitations were created and delivered to a small group of close family members who could attend.
On the day of the party, Alison had a lovely relaxing long lie (with her pink eye-mask on) and listening to her favourite ABBA music, followed by a lovely leg massage with her cocoa body lotion. She put on her lovely new top (chosen by Gordon) and, with a couple of squirts of ‘Emporio Armani’ perfume, she was ready for the party. Gordon’s role was to hide the car in the bottom carpark, complete with balloons and posters, while everyone remained on tenterhooks hoping that the party would remain a surprise.
We then awaited Hannah’s arrival. Andrew managed to get the unsuspecting Hannah to the hospice with Maisie and she entered the party room via the glitter curtain to the lovely sounds of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ playing in the background. The family had an amazing time and Hannah thought the party was the only surprise but, when Alison presented her with a little red mini toy car, the realisation then dawned on her face. Gordon had brought the car up to the front door of the hospice and, with the aid of the IPU staff, Alison was able to be taken out on her comfy chair to be part of the final surprise. As you have read, she had become involved in every part of this special celebration for her daughter. The family then all toasted Hannah with the ACCORD waiter aka our own Clinical Services Manager Brian before returning to the party room to complete their celebrations.
Alison, Gordon, Andrew and Hannah were all overwhelmed at what had been achieved in such a short space of time and how every effort was made to ensure Alison participated in every stage of the celebrations. Their parting words that day were ‘thank you for making this all possible’.