Referrals: 01206 890 360
The Hospice: 01206 845 566
Fundraising: 01206 931 468

Lauren Oldfield jumped out of a plane, despite her dislike of flying. The memory of her dad Steve gave her the courage to do a fundraising skydive for St Helena to help other families receive support when they need it. Steve was diagnosed with a fast growing brain tumour in February 2015 age 53 and died 14 months later. Lauren shares their story…

I thought about my dad the whole day. He hated flying as well. He would have been proud of me. He wanted to go on a flying course where they teach you how not to be afraid. But he never did in the end.

I was with him when he died at home, where he wanted to be. I wasn’t even meant to be there that night but I thought, I’ll go and stay because I’m off Monday morning. So I wasn’t even meant to be there, it was strange. 

I’d sleep next to him because he loved his cuddles and he always wanted to be close to someone. So I got into bed with him and had a cuddle and fell asleep. I must have felt him stop breathing and I woke up and I checked because I had a dream that he’d gone.


He didn’t know where he was

He used to forget things. He’d say ‘text me to remind me on the day’. Then one day he said he couldn’t remember something we’d spoken about the day before. He hated going to the doctors, didn’t like taking pills, anything to do with hospitals; he hated it. His speech had also started to go. The doctor sent us straight to the hospital where he had scans and they saw it straight away – a tumour like a tennis ball pushing on his brain. 

After a 10 hour operation, the surgeon had removed about 90% of it. When dad came round from the operation they needed to see if he was responding and if his brain was functioning, so they asked me to ask him to squeeze my hand. I was at the end of the bed and he squeezed it really hard. 


Comfort of his own home

He went to stay at my nan and grandad’s. He loved it there, being in the comfort of his own home. He grew up in that house, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We got in touch with St Helena’s SinglePoint and a community clinical nurse specialist came out. They arranged a speech and language therapist and a stair lift.

Dad didn’t want to talk about his illness. He would still worry about everyone else and we tried to keep him in high spirits. I think we all just didn’t want to talk about it.

There were a few times when he did talk, especially when he started his radiotherapy. He saw a photo of himself before and after and said what a long way he had come. He said ‘I’m going to beat this’. He looked amazing and we all thought at that point, you have beaten this.


He never gave anything away

He was very old fashioned, very old school in the sense that he was a gentleman, very laid back. He was a lovely man, affectionate. I could tell him anything. He was a proper dad in the sense that he’d say, ok we’ll get this sorted. I did have a good bond with him; we’re very similar.

There was a time that he was doing so well that the hospital suggested he came off some of his medication. At one point his speech was fantastic and if he got a word wrong, we would say slow down, take a breath, have a think about it, and then he’d be ok. If he was upset or had a bad day then his speech wouldn’t be very good.

The Hospice consultant came out a few times to see about his medication and pain relief, and towards the end the Hospice in the Home team came in quite a lot. They would ask him to sit at the edge of the bed and ask him to do certain movements and ask how he was feeling, but he never gave anything away. 

They were regular faces coming in to see him. It was nice to always see the same faces and they could get to know us as well. When you think about a St Helena Hospice nurse you think, oh that’s just a reminder, but dad used to be really pleased to see her.

His clinical nurse specialist came to talk to him and he did open up to her once or twice. They talked about everything; where he wanted to be, what his wishes were, his choices.

I was offered counselling and had a few massages at the Joan Tomkins Centre to help me relax. It takes your mind off it for a little while, I suppose.

You don’t have to keep fighting

I was with him at the end, so he wasn’t on his own. We were very close.

He didn’t want to take his food, didn’t want to drink or take his tablets. He put his hand on my face and I just said to him ‘you don’t have to keep fighting anymore dad, I hate seeing you like this, you don’t have to keep fighting for us’. I think he held on for us. 

I could see he’d had enough. In the last week he was just in bed, he didn’t get out. He hated that, he hated not being able to get out and about. I think he did it to please us. I said to him ‘you haven’t got to keep fighting anymore’. And it was that night.

It was about quarter past one in the morning. I called nan and grandad in. I didn’t really know how to feel, sort of glad, but not. Seeing what he had become in the end, I just hated that. He knew he was so different, he wanted people to remember him how he was.

I’ve noticed that I cry more now about him like seeing pictures or silly little things like songs on the radio or whatever, but I think it’s because I’m getting it out now. 

I gradually did my crying because he was different when he was ill. When he used to come and stay at mine I’d give him his tablets and we’d watch a film and have dinner and he’d always like to go to bed early. There’d be a certain time and he’d say right I’m going to bed. So I’d take him upstairs and then I’d just cry for a good 10, 15 minutes and I did that every time he’d stay… it was gradual. I knew it was coming towards the end, it was just when.


They were there if you needed anything

I’ve started volunteering at St Helena events and fundraising to recognise all the people that went through it like dad did, like we did; to support other families. I’ve helped at Midnight Walk, that was lovely, that was emotional. 

On my skydive I was excited the whole way – and I hate flying! I thought I’d get the feeling of falling in my stomach but I didn’t. When you’re free falling I didn’t get the feeling at all. It was a weird sensation. I remember seeing loads of tiny fields, it was beautiful. Usually if I’m up that high in a plane I’m absolutely petrified – and this was just with a bloke with a parachute. I was just in awe, it was beautiful. I’d definitely do it again.

Even though we had minimal support compared to what some families have, it was still nice to know they were there if you needed anything. We did call SinglePoint a few times and they were there. It was reassurance. You could ask them anything and even if it was something they couldn’t do, they could tell you where to find it. 

St Helena was there for us. And if they do any more for other families, then I just want to be part of that.

Take on a challenge for St Helena too - please email challenges@sthelena.org.uk

Contact Information
Fundraising

To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email fundraising@sthelena.org.uk , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.

SinglePoint

24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360 

SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists. 

The Hospice

To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU

Telephone: 01206 845 566

Hospice in the Home

You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:

Colchester/Halstead team
Telephone: 01206 845 566

Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222

Day Therapies

You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:

Telephone: 01206 848 163

Fax: 01206 752 245

You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222

Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU

Human Resources

The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Finance Team

To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Volunteer Services Team

The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Media Enquiries

For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464

Patient Referrals

If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360

Bereavement Support

To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Learning and Development Centre

The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560

Service User Group

For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397

Facilities Hire Enquiries

01206 851560

Lottery

To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.

Comment, compliment or complaint

Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566