Because of you...

Danny got married

Brenda Leddy says that after her son, Danny, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 34 she and his partner, Ellie, did all they could to make his last year as normal and happy as it could be.

“He was diagnosed with cancer in January 2017, and in June that year he was told it was terminal. Ellie and he wanted to marry and he wanted to die at home, and with Prospect Hospice’s support both those things happened,” says Brenda.

“Danny spent some time in Prospect Hospice’s inpatient unit, and the staff there made sure they could get married in the registry office on 1 September and spend their first night as a married couple together in a hotel. After that, hospice staff pushed two beds together in a room in the inpatient unit so Ellie and Danny could spend a few nights together there too – they were brilliant.

“Once Danny was stabilised, he was able to go back home and Ellie and I looked after him. He did have several trips back to the hospice because they were the only ones who could sort out his pain relief properly, but we were all so glad he could be at home as he wanted.”

Danny died at home on 19 December 2017.

“It was devastating for us all. As much as I thought I’d be OK, I felt absolutely overwhelmed. You can’t understand how it feels to lose someone you’ve carried for nine months and given birth to.

“For the first year after his death I kept telling myself, you can get through this – when all the firsts pass, you’ll be okay. So the first birthday, Easter and anniversary of his death came, the first Christmas without him and anniversary of his funeral were completed. But I wasn’t okay at all – I was sinking more and more, no longer able to keep my head above water. I was drowning in sorrow. I wanted to die.

“My doctor had offered me a few half hour sessions with a counsellor but frankly that wouldn’t have scratched the surface. Then in February 2019 I met Louise from the Prospect Hospice family support team. If I’m being completely honest, I never thought for one minute that it was going to help me at all. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I’m happy to say, and although at first I didn’t know how, or even if, my life would change, change it did.

“It takes time to build a relationship, whereby you can talk truly and openly about your innermost thoughts and feelings, and that to me was the best thing about support from the hospice’s team. For the first few times, I hardly said anything, but Louise had both the time and patience to get to know a bit about me before deciding the best way to help me. We all need different things to help us through.

“Without intervention from Louise my marriage would be over. My husband is not Danny’s father, and in my grief I said some things which were difficult for him to hear, saying things like ‘it’s not your son, how would you know?’. Louise explained some issues couldn’t be solved and suggested putting them in a box, putting the lid on and leaving them there. I did this and it saved our marriage and my sanity.

“The longevity of the bereavement service is amazing but Louise found a way to make it even better by forming the ‘Mums’ Group’, a brilliant idea and a godsend. Initially Louise introduced us, then we started meeting monthly in the Heart of the Hospice café at the hospice. We then expanded to meeting in public spaces – a pub in Old Town, a garden centre café and then in each other’s homes.

“I am pleased to say this is ongoing. Being able to be ourselves, knowing we are all on the same journey is brilliant. It doesn’t matter if we feel like crying, no-one minds, no need for explanations, it’s okay. Through the group I have made friends and made one very good friend too, so that’s a bonus.

“I will be so grateful for the rest of my life that Louise and I met. I am no longer on antidepressants and I can now live with the newer version of myself, without my son. I never thought I would ever be able to say those words.

“I still have peace of mind that should I need support at a later stage I can call on the hospice bereavement team again. Our community is so, so lucky to have Prospect in our midst.”

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