Inflation Appeal: Supporter Beth, talks about the care her dad received

Beth was 25, carefree and just one week away from jetting off on a life-changing trip to South America. The last thing she expected was for her perfectly healthy dad to become seriously ill. Bill died at Saint Michael’s Hospice after a short battle with bowel cancer, which quickly spread to his brain. He was just 52 years old.

Did you know that, here at Saint Michael’s Hospice, 83% of our care is funded by the generosity of our supporters, local businesses, and people just like you.

We receive just 17% government funding, which will rise by just 1.2% in April, despite an inflation increase of over 8%. This means that we have to find almost half a million pounds more each year. Will you make a donation today and help more families like Beth’s?

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Talking today, Beth lights up talking about her wonderful dad. Looking back at their time at Saint Michael’s with fondness, she said: "What was a terrible time has given us the best memories, and we are forever grateful for that.”

Portia, Beth, Bill, Louise

Beth describes her dad as lighting up any room he walked in to. He had a huge personality and a zest for life that was infectious. Bill lived in Knaresborough for over 20 years and was a loving husband to Louise and dad to two daughters, Beth and Portia.

Bill’s cancer diagnosis was a complete shock to his family. Beth was heading to South America, and Portia was studying acting in New York when their dad was rushed to hospital. Bill had a violent seizure in his home, and behind a curtain on an A&E ward, his family were told that he had lesions on his brain, which had spread from bowel cancer, which until that moment was undiagnosed.

Despite a treatment plan and successful Gamma Knife surgery to remove the tumours from his brain, a devastating scan revealed that the cancer had spread across Bill’s body, including to his spine and liver. After an initial glimmer of hope that her dad’s condition would improve, Beth faced the news that her dad would never be cancer free.

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“I remember thinking that me and Portia were really young and there would be so much he wouldn’t see like our weddings and his first grandchild. He stopped me right there and said, ‘You cannot be like that. You have to remember what I was here for, not what I’m not here for’.”

Bill’s cancer progressed quicker than expected, and after five months, treatment was halted. Just two weeks later, Bill was rushed to hospital in extreme pain and his family were told to consider what his end-of-life care would look like.

“It was really hard to hear that news, then actually see him because the two didn’t go hand in hand. He looked absolutely fine; he never lost a hair on his head and never lost any weight. We had the mentality that people can live well with cancer for a long time.” said Beth.

Arriving at Saint Michael’s Hospice for the first time, Beth describes her experience. “It wasn’t the place I’d pictured in my brain. They opened the door and I was wowed. I’d seen it on the train, and I always thought it was someone’s fancy house. I never knew it was Saint Michael’s.”

“I walked into Dad’s room and he was dressed in jeans and a top. I had only seen him in a gown for the past week, and he had been bedbound, unable to walk and struggling to eat.”

“He walked over to us like he was just his normal self. It was that contrast between what I had seen a couple of days before, to that. I was just like, ‘Oh, my dad’s back’.”

Bill spent three weeks at Saint Michael’s Hospice with his loving family and friends around him. Reflecting on the experience, Beth said:

“Every day felt to me like we were just celebrating being together and having those moments. Dad loved watching films, so we watched all his favourite films, and it wasn’t like we were burdened by anything else going on. It gave us that space to forget about everything.”

As the weeks passed by, it became clear to Beth that her dad was slipping away. She entered his room one morning, and for the first time since arriving at Saint Michael’s, he wasn’t out of bed. Beth recalls the very last words her dad said to her.

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“He just whispered, ‘love you’, and I never heard him speak again. He died at 3am the following day. After Dad took his last breath, we went and got a cup of tea and gathered our thoughts. When we returned to the room, the nurses had moved him into a comfortable position and put a flower next to his head. It was such a lovely touch. We stayed with him for hours and just talked to him because my sister said hearing is the last thing to go.”

Reflecting on her experience at Saint Michael’s, Beth said: “I don’t know what we would have done without it. I know that sounds cliché, but it became a bit of an anchor when we had been really lost, and no one had helped us. Saint Michael’s just gave us that chance for us to be altogether and for my dad to be comfortable and worry free. To me, that was the most important thing.”

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In loving memory of Michael ‘Bill’ Crewe, 23rd January 1963 – 8th December 2015.
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