The following true story reflects one seen on a daily basis at St Michael's Hospice. Names have been changed to protect identity but many people will recognise the situation for themselves. It could have been you, a member of your family, a friend or work colleague.
Almost three years ago my husband was very ill. He desperately needed a double lung transplant to survive. Our daughter was seven years old.
We got our miracle – Dad got the transplant.
During this time, this small child kept us both motivated. Her cheerful nature and love of life was motivating for us both. Recovery took a very long time.Dad was motivated to recover, helped in no small way by his daughter. Things were looking up.
A little less than a year after the transplant, I discovered a lump in my neck. This was diagnosed as cancer, which had already spread. Life expectancy was likely to be six to nine months.
My first thoughts were of my daughter and the further trauma she would have to overcome. There is always the added fear that Dad may reject the transplant organs. We have been honest with her, so you can imagine life has not been easy for her.Life became more difficult for us from a financial point of view as, up until now, I had been the main provider of income.
While attending St Michael’s Hospice, I began talking to Jocelyn, a Social Care volunteer, about a plan of taking our daughter to London to see The Lion King. As time went on, I think Jocelyn realised this dream was moving further away from ever becoming a reality. Jocelyn offered help with the aid of the Birmingham charity ‘Gentlemen’s Night Out’. That’s when it all became a bit magical.
Jocelyn had managed to plan a three-night stay in London with transport to and from the hotel and extra treats such as Hopper Bus, River Cruise and, yes, fantastic tickets to see The Lion King!
From the minute we were picked up everything was just perfect; the hotel was fantastic and central to everywhere, which was great for Mum and Dad. Even the weather came out to play.
We kept it all secret from our daughter until the morning we were leaving.I don’t know who was more excited, Rachel, Dad or me! We also kept the tickets to the show a secret until the day of the performance. This was greeted with “the best day of my life”. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, we were approached by the stage manager and invited backstage after the performance. Fairy Godmother Jocelyn had arranged this as a surprise.
What a fantastic experience, with Diane McLean who gave her time and photography skills for us to have lasting memories to treasure. More memories include the Rain Forest Café as well as sightseeing on the River Cruise and Hopper Bus, organised by Jocelyn. The four hour visit to Hamleys was impressive and gave Rachel the chance to spend some of her birthday money in a really special place.
We managed to have dinner with Rachel’s older brother and sister. My eldest daughter said she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen us all looking so happy.
How do you begin to thank all the people who made this magical, momentous memory possible? Thank you all for your support, time and effort in creating all of these memories, which I am sure my daughter will treasure always.
Trish & Gerry Ward