By supporting him and his family at home and by providing a restful environment at the end of Randolph’s life, hospice teams helped make every moment matter.
Randolph had been diagnosed with skin cancer which spread to the lymph nodes in 2013 and had received treatment. Then in 2017 he was told he had cancer in the lung, rib and lymph nodes. He initially underwent chemotherapy but last summer the family were told he would not recover from the cancer.
The teams at John Taylor Hospice were able to help with a range of support including home visits from the clinical nurse specialists and Hospice at Home Team, counselling from the Well-Being Team and the provision of essential equipment from the occupational therapists.
The hospice was also able to secure Personal Health Budget funding for Randolph which enabled the family to pay for transport for a holiday. Randolph’s partner of 35 years Carolyn Murden had applied for a free holiday for the family and had been offered a five-day stay in a caravan in Skegness. But the problem was transport.
Randolph’s condition was complicated by the fact the cancer had left him paralysed from the waist down and it also caused hypercalcemia, a condition in which the calcium spreads from the bones into the bloodstream, making movement difficult. This meant Randolph would be unable to travel to Skegness in a car.
But the PHB funding enabled the family to pay for an ambulance – ensuring Randolph could enjoy his final holiday.
“He just shone on that holiday,” recalls 53-year-old Carolyn. “We walked along the beach, went into Skegness, my mother and step-dad came to visit, we went fishing. Randolph’s passion in life was fishing and we found a fishing lake and sat there and he struggled but he persevered because he knew it would be one of the last things he would do. By 6 o’clock we were saying we needed to go back to the caravan but he didn’t want to go!
“It was really lovely. It meant the world to us because he died five weeks later.”
Former car mechanic Randolph was a family man, never happier than when he was surrounded by his loved ones – Carolyn, their sons 32-year-old Randolph Jnr, 27-year-old Nathaniel and 24-year-old Simon and their grandchildren Izayah and Amelia, both aged three, and Caleb aged 13 months.
Throughout Randolph’s illness, Carolyn was at his bedside constantly, providing the day-to-day care he needed with support from the John Taylor Hospice teams.
“He never once moaned, he was a perfect patient,” says Carolyn. “I wish I could be looking after him for another 15 months. He always asked how I was coping and I would say ‘I’m coping with you – I’m not coping with the cancer’.”
In early September 2018 Randolph was admitted to the hospice’s In-Patient Unit for treatment for the hypercalcemia. At this point the family were told that Randolph’s condition had deteriorated and he was reaching the end of his life.
And they made the decision that Randolph would remain at John Taylor.
“He had only gone in for the treatment and initially he wanted to come home but after a few days we realised it was better,” recalls Carolyn. “I said ‘Look Randolph, if you stay in the hospice I can be your wife, not your carer. I can just sit with you and hold your hand whereas at home it would be different because of doing all the caring’.
“Randolph loved being at the hospice because he could get out. At home he tended to be stuck in the back room and we would have to get him into the wheelchair and try and wheel him out.
“It was brilliant at the hospice – me and the boys stayed there. The boys lived in the family room which meant we could all spend lots of time there with Randolph.”
And that time together was very precious as Randolph died on 28 September, aged 56.
“The day he found the cancer was terminal I promised him that whatever happened we would all be there with him and we were,” says Carolyn. “He died peacefully and with us all there.
“On the evening on which he died we took him out in the hospice garden because he loved the garden and he could hear the birds and see the squirrels. And then later I held his hand and my sons were there with him. I told him we were all there, just like I promised him.”
Carolyn, who worked as a cook at a local school, says the care the family received throughout Randolph’s illness made a real difference.
“It was amazing. You always hear of hospices but until you need them I don’t think you realise how good they are.”
Carolyn has millions of memories of Randolph but she also has one very special memento. Through the personal health budget, the couple were able to commission a hand cast – in which their two hands are firmly held together. Today that takes pride of place in the family’s Bordesley Green home.
“I really do love it – it’s so detailed, you can really see our hands,” Carolyn says. “It was delivered the day after he died so it’s very special.”