"This hospice is awesome"
Ash Jones wanted to share his story to reassure other young people in need of hospice care. His idea of what happens at St Helena changed during his first Day Therapies session of the Men's Cancer Group. The impact on him was such that he said it had done wonders to his life, and wanted to encourage people to fundraise to make sure support is available in the future for those who need it. Ash died at The Hospice age 31. His wife Victoria is receiving Bereavement Support and continues to raise money for St Helena in Ash's memory.
Ash: I actually felt like someone had taken my life away but now I just feel like it’s happened. I’m not going to get it back, someone’s taken it so I’ve just got to get on with it.
Victoria: I think he’s so young, we’re both really young, so it was why us?
Ash: The stigma of they wanted to put me in a hospice, maybe I’m a bit more than what the hospice, the hospital, can tell me. Scared, yep. It’s a bit of a whirlwind at first and being so young, 31, made me think a bit more about it. But I’m strong, I will get past it. As soon as I was told cancer, I sort of gave up and I feel now, is there any other 31… 32… 30 year olds going through what I’m going through just bottling it up? They could benefit a lot by coming here.
Victoria: If I’m down then Ash is down, if I’m depressed then Ash is depressed. I’m not going to get anywhere by sitting in a corner and not getting on with it. We know it’s limited so every day we try and make a little memory for every day and it helps that I can stay as well. And we can bring the dog with us as well.
Ash: and it helps patients knowing my relative is just on the bed next to me because that’s what it would be at home. If you are young and you’re scared don’t be, there is hospices here. I’m still alive and the word hospice doesn’t mean anything. Just take it, take the help, take everything that the nurses here, the groups, everything here, it does make a hell of an improvement in your life; it’s done wonders to mine. This hospice is awesome. In the future there won’t be the hospice it needs us guys, girls, youngsters to keep it going, so yeah just take the help. The staff here now I can’t describe how they are. The groups, Mark and Glen’s groups are amazing, they do it to your level; if you don’t understand anything they’ll sit you down and go through what you want, what you need and they’re just, yeah, they’re superb I can’t say any more really you need, if you need help, you’ve got to get that help, you can’t get that help from a pub! Homely, it’s really homely I mean if you were to go to A&E with your dog they’d chuck you out. If you were to go to A&E and ask for a drop of rum and coke what do you think they would say?
Victoria: Jog on!
Ash: Go away! My first night here, I go I could kill for a drop of rum and coke. Next minute it’s there. I can’t fault anything. The food, well! Because of a certain person that runs a group, because of a certain group as well, has decided to say we can get a take-out. Yes, we’ve had everything. I’ve even surprised the nurses to try them out a little bit, tuna and mint sauce sandwich and it’s on a plate at half ten at night, half ten, eleven at night if I want a cheese and whatever, it’s there on a plate, so it’s yeah, where else would do that?
I went in there lost and came out [with] my positive of doing a little walk where I didn’t think I would
Ash talks about the Men’s Cancer Group. Transcript:
When I walked in I was very nervous purely because as you say, I walked in and it was 80… 90… 60 year olds in there and I thought, it’s not me, why am I here? I shouldn’t be here.
But I carried on and it just got better and better. I feel Glen’s group, Glen and Mark’s group, there needs to be more like that not just one to eight weeks, that wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough for me.
We spoke a lot about like mental health, we spoke about physical, (what did we do) emotions, that sort of thing, what positives we’ve had over the week, which I found really good because I then heard the other gentlemen there what his positive out of the week was and another person’s positive and I was like… because I was sitting there and I was going what positives have I had?
It dawned on, it just… I thought, I went in there lost and I came out and gone actually my positive was doing a little walk where I didn’t think I would, that sort of thing.
They are good and they aimed it as well at not just age group they aimed at AGE group, a bigger age group, which I thought very good.
I'm hoping Ash is proud of me
Victoria talks about her journey with St Helena. Transcript:
Everyone keeps telling me how amazing and how strong I am, but I don’t personally think of myself as amazing and strong. I just know I have to get up in the morning and carry on because he wouldn’t want me to dwell on it and to sit there and mope and cry. With the help of the Bereavement Support here, I’m slowly getting back to where I was beforehand.
I'm hoping that Ash is proud of me and that I’ve raised money that is going to go to somewhere where it is needed. I have done the Pier to Pier walk which was the full 14 miles, the Bubble Rush and the Midnight Walk as well. Next March I’m going to do the Northern Lights trek with my mum and three friends. I’m going to do it in memory of Ash.
When Ash found he did have cancer, friends and family put a JustGiving page together and fundraised for us to go on holiday once he was better. He really wanted to do the cruise up to the Northern Lights and obviously because he didn’t get there I’m going to do it for him.
Him able to have the 24 hour a day care that I wasn’t able to give him at home because I had to go to work, or where he wasn’t able to get up and down the stairs, here [The Hospice] if he wanted to go out I could just take him out. There were no stairs to contend with. I was able to stay here with him and there was no limit on how many nights or the limit of time I was able to stay here. It was also that the dog could stay here as well, and towards the end there was the process of the cat coming to visit but in the end Ash was able to go home for a couple of hours to see the cat. That was the Thursday before he did pass away. His one final wish was to go home but unfortunately he never got home to stay, so the ambulance service and the staff here arranged for him to be picked up, to be taken home up three flights of stairs to see George’s bedroom for the last time that he painted and decorated and sorted out before I packed it up ready to move, and so he could see the cat. And he did go and see George’s grave for the last time as well.
It meant loads to us. Obviously he was here for six weeks so he hadn’t seen home for six weeks, he hadn’t seen George for six weeks, and to be able to do that together for the last time meant a lot.
People see the word hospice and they think they come into The Hospice and they don’t ever come out; they sit in a bed for 24 hours a day. But it’s not like that at all. You can take them out, you can come and go as you please, and they don’t always not come out.
Ash unfortunately after six weeks did pass away but he was able to come and go in that time and live as normal as he could life while he was here.
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