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Because of you...

Alisa could be a daughter again

Alisa Holt says her sponsored runs and fundraising dance productions are her way of thanking Prospect for the care they gave both her parents.

Margaret Holt was never unwell, and hadn’t had as much as a cold in 16 years, so when she began to feel poorly in January 2019 her family took it seriously. The diagnosis of small cell lung cancer came as a shock, as did the prediction that Margaret probably had around six months to live.

But Margaret’s body coped well with the first round of chemotherapy, and just over a year later she was about to start a second round. Her daughter, dance and drama teacher Alisa, recalls how the week before the second round her father, Eric, was suddenly taken ill.

“I took him to Great Western Hospital on the Friday, they kept him in, and on the Monday they told me that Dad also had lung cancer, and was dying. It was an absolutely horrendous time. My sister had recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and thankfully was in remission, but it felt as everything was falling apart.

“At one stage I was just dashing from one floor of GWH, where Mum was now having chemo, to another where Dad was on a ward, with not long to live.

“After a week, Dad was moved to Prospect Hospice, and when he saw his room he actually cried, he was so grateful – he said “Is this all for me?”

“Prospect Hospice was brilliant, especially with mum being so unwell too. They were feeding both of them, and as Mum was too ill to stay with Dad overnight they let us stay with him instead. Eventually she was strong enough to stay overnight with him, which was lovely – they had just started their 40th year of marriage.

“Dad had been such an intelligent man – I only understood about 30 per cent of what he said, he was so clever – that his rapid decline was heart-breaking. But he was very accepting, and being cared for by Prospect Hospice made a huge difference – from cutting his nails to encouraging us to take the therapy dog in to the garden outside Dad’s room.”

Eric died one month after his diagnosis – on the Sunday before the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

“Mum kept going for another 15 months after we lost Dad, but in April 2021 she suddenly became paralysed overnight, and tests showed the cancer had metastasized to her spinal cord. It was the Easter weekend, but Prospect Hospice staff came out to Mum and sorted out everything she needed, in spite of it being a bank holiday. They brought the equipment she needed, and we had visits from carers twice a day, and her medication was sorted immediately. Some of the carers had also looked after Dad, and remembered Mum, which was comforting. Mum died in June 2021, and though her experience of Prospect Hospice was different to Dad’s, both had amazing care.

“The thing we found equally important, though, was the way Prospect Hospice understood and cared about us children, too. It can be traumatising to have to provide very personal care to your own parents, but they understood that and helped us be their children again, rather than their carers. They enabled us all to reclaim dignity, and they also enabled us to cry about the whole situation. That meant so much.

“I raised £1,000 through a sponsored run after they died, and this spring my dance and drama department at New College are putting on performances in aid of Prospect Hospice. It’s one way of making sure that other families can benefit from the wonderful care that we were so lucky to be offered.”

Find out more about how you can support the work of the hospice with a regular gift here.

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