Alice's Story


Alice's Story

My lovely sister Alice was first given the shock of breast cancer in 2017, just as she was celebrating her 54th birthday.

She didn’t fully understand what was going on, but the shock was still real. I remember driving her home from the Hospital singing along to ABBA; Alice set the tone early on how we would all cope with her illness. When she eventually rang each of the all clear bells in the Hospital, we thought she was home free.

That was until her terminal diagnosis on March 2019.

We had already met the Doctor McNeil, and she visited Alice at home and suggested some time in the hospice would help her. We were devastated as, to us, a hospice was where people go to die.
I was lucky enough to be able to stay overnight with Alice. This room, however, was not like a hospital room; it was decorated beautifully and had an adaptable bed and armchair for Alice as well as a comfortable bed for me. 

I thought that the staff were too good to be true – they appeared so kind, loving and understanding, and most importantly of all, patient.

The staff treated Alice’s symptoms and we too noticed an improvement in her health. I came to realise that the staff – doctors, auxiliary, cleaners, cooks, physiotherapists and nurses were all a team and a team that looked after all their patients with love.

Alice would repeatedly press her buzzer when she was feeling up to it and it was always answered with patience and understanding.

When Alice suggested that she could bring the buzzer home with her all I could do was laugh and be grateful that it stayed in the hospice.

The hospice staff got Alice back on her feet and home again. But what did this mean for us as a family? This gave us those extra priceless opportunities to make more memories with Alice. We visited most of the parks in the West of Scotland. We went to Troon and walked along the beach eating ice-cream. We drank prosecco with friends. We ate together in restaurants. We played cards and board games round the dining room table with her niece and nephews. We went to church together.  We had the time of our lives – time given to us by the hospice.

It was time to go back to the Hospice, Alice was no longer going to a new place, she was going back to friends. I will never forget as Alice went into the hospice, the staff lined the corridor to welcome her back and most of them accompanied Alice to her room – they had even given Alice the same room – the room she saw as hers.

I would always see her little dolls tucked into bed with her. She would then get her cuddles from the nurses and would say her goodnights. Although the staff have so much to do in caring for their patients, they always found time for our family. I often felt vulnerable sleeping in hospitals with Alice, but not in the here. I was offered supper at night, brought breakfast in the morning and had to make up my bed quickly each evening or I would find it had been done for me. Everything in the hospice was done with love.

Her fourth visit to the ACCORD was to be Alice’s final one. I found myself having Alice to myself the following evening as our family went home to rest. I felt like a gift from Alice to me. The occasional noise in response to my ramblings was all I got, but it was all I needed. One of the nurses came on one of her regular checks and listened to me as I described some of Alice’s earlier life. She shared my tears and that was another gift – to know Alice had touched her life too. The nurses showed great care, respect and love towards Alice right to the end. Every few hours we left Alice to their care and we would return to see her looking fresh and comfortable. She passed away in March, surrounded by her family who loved her and the caring staff of the hospice who so loved her too.