Together for 43 years; together in Homes away from Home

In April 2020, John and Pamela’s lives were turned upside down when John received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. The couple, who have been married for 43 years, found themselves staying at the Charity’s Homes from Home preceding John going into hospital for life saving cancer treatment. The couple kindly shared their story with us and described their stay at the Charity’s Homes as ‘priceless’.

John’s Story

“I was diagnosed with Cancer in April 2020…there’s so many cancers out there. I never thought I’d be struck down with multiple myeloma. I was treated at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital before being referred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“We were offered the opportunity to stay in a cottage to help with our stay. The cottage we have been given has been great and a great pressure-reliever. It’s also enabled my wife to be able to stay with me for an extra week, rather than being in a hospital ward by myself for another week.

“We’ve been married for 43 years and have never had more than a week apart, so to have had three to four weeks apart from each other would’ve been extremely stressful for both of us. By staying in this cottage it has reduced that down to two weeks and possibly less.

“I had chemo on Tuesday, and then I had my first lot of stem cells transplanted on the Wednesday and my second lot of stem cells on Thursday. That was done in between staying with my wife in the cottage, rather than having an extra week on the ward – such a big difference!  Now it’s just getting ready for the mission tomorrow. So I’ve got another evening with my lovely wife and that’s it for a couple of weeks.

“The cottages have been absolutely fantastic. Although we only live about 50 miles away, we couldn’t have travelled those 50 miles daily; you’re not allowed with the treatment. We couldn’t thank you enough.

“Everybody has being fantastic. They’ve given me every opportunity. Every possibility. Every chance. The treatment the NHS has provided has been absolutely first class, and these cottages are the icing on the cake.

“Please do donate, these cottages are so important to people like myself and my wife. And I know there are a lot of people a lot worse off than we are, but these cottages are priceless. To guarantee [a place to stay for] treatment is the first plus point, and the second plus point is to get to have your family around you for those extra few days. That’s priceless. As some people don’t get those extra few days. So please, if you can, dig a little deeper.”

Pamela’s Story

“For us to be able to stay in Bottle Cottages it’s given us the chance to be together in the run up to John going into hospital, which has made the transition of going into hospital less stressful for John. It’s kept a more homely feel going, which I think when someone is going through the treatment my husband is going through is extremely important, and I think these should be kept going for that reason, as it helps to have your family around you. Although this experience is extremely stressful for not only John, but for myself, it has made it a little bit less stressful by not literally dropping him at the door straight away.

“They [the Homes from Home] are extremely well looked after, the facilities are maintained and the communal areas are beautiful. It all helps. I sat outside and it’s very peaceful and very quiet, so anyone who is going through treatment - it’s a lovely place for them to go sit with a book and a cup of coffee. The facilities and the comfort that you provide is spot on – it’s first class. And I can’t thank whoever I’ve got to thank enough.

“I think that anyone who can make a donation, please do, it doesn’t matter if it’s a small amount, whatever somebody can afford. With anything, you never know when it’s going to strike and you never ever know if you’re going to end up in this situation yourself. The stay this week has helped us both tremendously.

“I know this isn’t a journey end as such, but this has been such a long journey. You feel like you’re going round and round in a barrel and suddenly there is a little bit of a ladder and you begin to feel like there is a way out. This week, with these cottages, has made it so much easier. Throughout this journey we’ve certainly felt humbled and privileged by the amount of care and attention he’s been given.”

We, as a Charity, were pleased to be able to support this wonderful couple and were pleased they found the Homes away from Home a comfort during such a difficult time. To help families like Pamela’s and patients like John, you can donate to this appeal, here.

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University Hospitals Birmingham Charity is a company limited by guarantee in England (No.10004003) and a charity registered in England and Wales (No.1165716).Registered Office: 5th Floor Nuffield House, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

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