Mary Gaunt’s mum, Jeanette (Jenny) was first diagnosed with bladder cancer over ten years ago. The cancer was monitored over the years but then by 2018 had spread to her pelvis. After radiotherapy both at Northampton General and then privately, Jenny’s doctors advised against further aggressive treatment and instead recommended pain medication.  Then in early 2019 she was suffering severe pain in her head and was sent for a brain scan.

Not long after the scan she was admitted to the hospice and her Consultant, Doctor Acharya broke the news that the brain scan showed that the cancer had spread to her skull. Mary recalls: “We’ll never forget how he was. He was amazing, he held my Mum’s hand at her bedside as he explained what was happening and also phoned my brother who lives in America on Facetime to fully explain everything to him and advise he should book his flight to come home to be with her.”


Mary continued: “There’s so much more to the hospice than people think. Like lots of other families, we thought the hospice only meant one thing before Mum came into their care. We found out for ourselves about all the other services, like wellbeing services, outpatients appointments, bereavement support for the family, especially children.”

“Mum was scared and angry at first and couldn’t really talk as she was in so much pain but we know exactly the quality of the care and the dignity she was receiving. She was always so grateful for all the care given while she was an NHS patient and we know she would have felt the same at the hospice, she was just unable to communicate it. We were able to sleep on a bed in her room so she wasn’t on her own. It was like a vigil, between our whole family we never left her side”

The family were also given memory boxes, blankets and teddy bears by the hospice family worker to give to Jenny’s five grandchildren to keep which she held before they were given to the children.

“Mum was only at the hospice for a week and other than being at home, which wasn’t possible because of her pain, I wouldn’t have wanted her to be anywhere else. Nothing was too much trouble and everything was done with such care and consideration.”

The family's fundraising challenge

It was during the week that Jenny passed away that Mary, her Dad and her brother Dean saw the challenges advertised on the screens around the hospice and knew they wanted to raise money and help raise awareness. After spotting the Hadrian’s Wall walk which they were just too late for, they decided they would do the Isle of Wight Challenge in May. Mary, her Dad and brother Dean’s fundraising is going well but if anyone can help them make sure they reach their joint total please sponsor them, via Mary’s online page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mary-rose-gaunt

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