Because of you...

Graham held his grandson for the first time

Graham Maxam devoted himself to his family and just enjoying life. “He just cared about people,” remembers his daughter Katie. “Mum and dad were very young when they met, just teenagers. On one of their first dates they were out buying sweets and the lady in front of them had to put some grapes back because she couldn’t afford them. Dad bought the grapes and took them out to her. That was dad, even from a young age he cared about others.”

Graham loved getting to see the world and when Katie and her husband Ali decided to travel around Australia a few years ago, her parents joined them for part of the trip. “That’s when we first noticed something was wrong with dad. He had to go to the bathroom all the time. It turned out to be bladder cancer. He had his bladder removed and we were told that was that. He had to go for a scan every six months but, other than that, he was fine.”

After the pandemic, a scan revealed that the cancer was back and had spread to his kidney and bones, he started treatment although this was always palliative. “Dad had to give up crisps. He hated that, he loved his crisps, but he just couldn’t eat them during the treatment. It had made his mouth dry and sore but, as with all that had been thrown at him so far, he handled it well.”

Despite the treatment, the cancer spread throughout Graham’s bones. “Scans showed he had it through his whole skeleton. It was everywhere. He was in so much pain and no one could get on top of it. As soon as one dominant pain was taken away, another surfaced. Dad was up all night, crying out for help. Mum couldn’t do anything. The GP kept upping his medication, but nothing was working so they suggested getting in touch with Prospect Hospice.”

“Mum wanted to talk to dad about what that meant – she knew he wouldn’t go in if he thought it meant he was going to die. He had already told us that he wanted to die at home.”

After another week of excruciating pain, Graham agreed to give the hospice a go. “Dad would be the first to say that if he knew what would happen, he’d have gone sooner.”

“From the moment we all arrived, everything felt a little easier. He was given a buzzer that he could press if he was in pain and then a nurse would come to help manage his pain. If that wasn’t working, they had a consultant who would be available to help. From that very first day, even mum was able to relax a little, she said she knew he was going to be well cared for there. Whenever she visited, she was made a cup of tea and Dad was given whatever he wanted for dinner. He wasn’t eating a lot near the end but he could always manage some of the chef’s puddings – he really loved those.”

Katie remembers her dad at home, constantly readjusting himself and moving due to the pain. “It didn’t feel like that at the hospice. The struggle was lifted. He trusted the nurses would be there to help when it got too much and he was able to be more fun again, more himself again. They told him they were there for him to make his life easier and he believed them. He trusted them to take care of him.”

And it wasn’t just Graham who was looked after. “They focussed on the whole family, making sure my mum and brother, Ray, were made to feel welcome and forget about medication timings. We were just able to be a family and enjoy some time together.”

“Dad was a night owl and one of the nurses, Maria, would sit up and talk to him all night while mum went home to get some rest. It was clear to us that he was happier. He was no longer miserable and struggling through each day. Instead we were now hearing about all the nonsense he’d been up to with Maria overnight.”

Looking back at their time at Prospect Hospice, Katie’s fondest memory is of her Dad and her newborn son Grayson. “When my son was born, dad was never confident holding him. He thought he might drop him or make a sudden movement because of the pain in his joints. The new treatment plan the hospice had sorted out for him meant that he finally had the confidence to pick up his grandson and give him a cuddle. For a man who was so dedicated to his family, it was just incredible to see. The hospice gave that to him and I’ll always be so grateful to them for that.”

Graham had always expressed his wish to die at home. He was comfortable in his house and could have his dog and cats around him. When the time came, Graham’s wife Mandy was taken to one side and the nurses told her that he was now entering the end of his life and that, if it was still his wish, now would be the time to go home.

“Dad had a good day or two at home with people visiting and then the pain got worse. The hospice team and district nurses were coming out more and more and recommended a syringe driver so he could manage his pain levels.”

“It really felt like once the hospice had hold of you, they never let go. Visits from the team still happened when we went home. Nurses would pop in on their way home just to check in and see if he (and we) were OK. We felt we knew them and that our care mattered to them.”

Graham died at home at the age of 60. “His final passing was lovely. Me, my mum and brother were all with him. We had a cup of tea and his favourite music was playing in the background. He was a coffee lover so we dabbed some coffee on his lips so he could join in. When his breathing changed, we knew he was going. We spoke to him all the time, reminiscing about all the fun times and telling him we loved him. It was actually really nice.”

“If we hadn’t had the involvement from Prospect Hospice, none of that would have been possible. Without them, dad would have died in agony but, because of them, he got to die the way he wanted to – at home, surrounded by his family and I’ll always be grateful to them for giving us that.”


Because of you...

Because of you, we were there for Katie and her family. Without you, we won’t be there for others like them. To donate to support the work of Prospect Hospice in your community and help care for other local people like Graham, click below.