"They allowed us that freedom to be a family, spend time with Rob and get our last memories in."
“We’ll look after him but we’re also going to look after you,” were the words met with huge relief by Toby Freeman on arrival at the hospice. After watching his 24 year old big brother Robin go from being fit and healthy to living with a rare cancer in less than a year, Toby and his family could now make every memory matter. Toby shares his story…
He was there for nine days. That’s the nine days I remember. I don’t remember Rob being ill. He didn’t seem ill at the hospice, he seemed more alive than he had done the entire 10 months previous. There was no pressure, no more horrifically hard treatment or constant bad news.
Rob made the decision he would like to be at the hospice, to be close to those who could help him and put less pressure on mum.
The hospice allowed us to have a period of saying goodbye and putting good memories together. We had some amazing experiences. We went out and about, we weren’t stuck in the hospice.
Rob and my eldest brother Adam went out to see a final metal concert and they had the best time! Adam was wheeling him around and Rob wasn’t in pain - that was their memory and it was absolutely brilliant. We also had a really nice family day out at the zoo where Rob had a zookeeper experience, and we had one last family-photo shoot together. The whole point was the hospice could help us do these things.
At the hospice we could watch our DVDs, play our video games, reminisce, swear, do whatever we needed to do, even have a cry if we needed to. I could still be Rob’s brother; we could still joke around. We felt we were in a place where we could be us again without the pressures of illness and having treatment and looking after him and worrying about his care.
"It was absolutely life changing... to not feel that constant heart-breaking grief."
Someone was always there to do the care for us so we could just be a family. They allowed us that freedom to be a family, spend time with Rob and get our last memories in. Unfortunately, time just kept getting shorter and shorter and shorter. Rob went until he couldn’t anymore.
After Rob’s death, and with encouragement from my now wife, I called up St Helena’s bereavement team. At first I was sceptical, I didn’t know anything about any of this stuff, about counselling or therapy.
My first session I went and I sat in a room and I just cried. And I cried and I cried and I think I cried for about an hour. And then I went back the next week and I cried a bit less and did a bit more talking. And by the 6th week, we were talking. It was just sitting in a room with a stranger, someone completely objective, someone who wasn’t going to judge me.
For me it was absolutely life changing, to not feel that constant stress, that constant anger, that constant heart-breaking grief. I still feel it, I still struggle on the ‘big’ occasions like birthdays or the anniversary of his death – and even during the ‘small’ things, like during football transfer season. It’s always there but the bereavement support really helped kick start my life around the grief. I take it with me rather than it being my entire world, with me just trying to follow on behind it.
We’re all going to die, so let’s really talk about death. Let’s talk about death and taxes and all the things that are important to all of us.
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
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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.
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
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
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
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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
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
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For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
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.
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