Because of you...

Alan could die at home

You may have known Alan Mcloughlin as a footballer for Swindon Town Football Club. To me and my sister Abby, he was simply Dad – and what a Dad he was. He absolutely spoilt us in every possible way. He was humble, respected, funny, a true gentleman and our best friend in the whole world.

He was first diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012, but after four years of treatment and trialling a new drug, he was given the all clear. He was healthy and enjoying life again – until the summer of 2019 when he noticed a lump. The cancer had returned with a large tumour in his chest and three more in his body including in his one remaining kidney. We were all floored by the news. He began a more aggressive treatment which made him really sick and that was when things got really tough not only for him, but for my mum, me and my sister.

He started to complain of aches and pains and was beginning to act rather strangely. He was getting worse, but he wouldn’t call anyone for help, so mum and I called his consultant who arranged for an ambulance to come out. It turned out he’d broken his neck in two places as the cancer had spread to his bones. No wonder he was in pain. He underwent a 15 hour surgery followed by a week-long stay in intensive care. When we got him home, we set up a bed for him downstairs. He was still acting oddly and not making sense so once again we spoke to the consultant and Dad had to go back into hospital.

It was there that he received the devastating news that he had just a few weeks left to live. He was all alone to take in this news as, due to the pandemic, we weren’t allowed to be with him for longer than an hour long visiting slot. It was terrible to think he was alone. Dad wanted to die at home, with us with him. On one of my visits, I was suddenly told his medication was ready and I could take him home. I was a little shell-shocked that we could take him home there and then but we did what Dad wanted. I’ll never forget that journey home. We were always so chatty when together but neither of us said a word. I remember thinking the whole time: I’m taking my dad home to die.

I’ll be forever thankful that that was when Prospect Hospice stepped in. I just can’t put into words what they did to support Dad and us – they were a godsend. I really don’t know what we’d have done without Linda, our nurse, who was there by our side. I worried how dad would respond to a stranger in our home, but Linda was so lovely that he didn’t mind at all.

I remember on one occasion when Linda arrived, we hadn’t slept for days and we desperately needed someone to be with Dad so we could get some rest. She assured us we should go to bed and she would only wake us if it was really necessary. At 2am I heard a knock at the door, Linda explained dad was asking after us and she felt we should be with him. Dad seemed agitated and was panicking a little – I think he thought he was going to die. Linda arranged for a doctor to come to us to give Dad some medication to help him settle and sleep. This worked, and Linda was then on hand to support us as a family – simply by being there and making a cup of tea.

Sadly, Dad declined quickly but remained adamant that he wanted to die at home. The team at Prospect Hospice made that happen – they came to us with everything we would need. They were simply brilliant. When the end came, they treated us all with experience, respect and dignity, knowing when to be there and when to leave us as a family. It was so comforting to know that we weren’t alone and that they were there for all of us.

Dad’s illness was horrendous, intense and awful, but the last hour of his life was incredibly peaceful. I’m proud of us as a family, that we gave Dad the death at home he wanted, but we couldn’t have done it without the support from the hospice. They put everything in place to ensure Dad dying at home was possible and even more than that, it wasn’t a burden for us.

Since his death just over a year ago, we’ve been raising money to help ensure that the hospice can be there for other families like ours in the future. Because of you, my Dad was able to receive outstanding care at the end of his life and I really want to thank you for that. Without you and your ongoing support, they might not be able to help someone else like him.

Megan is supporting the hospice’s summer raffle and, if you’d like to buy tickets and be in with the chance of winning a range of cash prizes, you can enter here.