It was the night before the Potteries Marathon, and 30 year old Sarah Hardy still didn’t know whether she was running the next day.
It wasn’t injury or fear that was holding her back; it was the fact her mum Viv was being cared for at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
“It was hard because we didn’t know if I was going to actually run it, because Mum was nearing the end,” she said.
Her father Dave (Viv’s husband) said the decision was made she would run after Viv passed away at around 11:30pm on the Saturday evening, the day before the Marathon .
The day itself would be proving emotionally and physically draining for Sarah, who like many of their family, had been staying at the Hospice with Viv, and were getting by on a few hours sleep here and there.
“It just had to be done,” humbling Sarah, from Weston Coyney said.
“I’d not had a lot of sleep for the last week; I think I managed a collectively 6 hour’s sleep in the 3-4 days leading up to the run, when we stayed at the hospice.
“The night before the run I got a couple of hours in, as Mum passed away at half past eleven and we had a few things to sort out.”
With the support of her family Sarah made it to the finish line.
“I had a few moments during the marathon, as I saw a few people Mum knew and also my Dad and sisters were there at the start line and other family members were scattered across the route,” she said.
One of Sarah’s sisters came and joined her for the final 10km of the marathon, and at the end her Dad was waiting and she just ran straight into his arms.
“It was a moment I will never forget,” Dave told us.
What Sarah didn’t know was that Dave was asked to share their family story to all those people at the finish line, and the response was overwhelming with strangers coming up to Dave, his family and Sarah once she had finished to hand them £10 and £20 notes to give to Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
Viv’s journey with the hospice began last August after she was referred to the In Patient Unit for pain management, after her Oncologist said she was too poorly for any treatment after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“He suggested that she come into Dougie Mac to get her pain under control,” Dave said.
“Within 10 days she was smiling again, after arriving in agony and not being able to sit up. We went to see the Oncologist again and he was amazed by her turn around.”
Viv was then cleared for radiotherapy treatment and then onto to chemotherapy, but she suffered internal bleeding from the intro venous version. Her Oncologist suggested she could carry on with the tablet version, but unfortunately after a scan in June it showed that her tumours had grown quite substantially.
She had continued to attend the Hospice’s Day Therapy Unit during this time, and her family from right around the country rallied together to take part in the Dougie Mac 5K in April as ‘Team Viv’.
Viv was still coming to the Day Therapy Unit in June but her condition was deteriorating, and after a meeting with Dr. Claire Hookey, the family had a heartbreaking decision to make; whether to continue with her chemotherapy treatment or focus on pain management.
“This was a decision that the nurses and Dr. Hookey give us time to consider; they didn’t tell us what to do but they helped us to make the decision.
“And the decision was to not go for more treatment,” Dave said.
At this meeting Dave and his family were given an end of life care plan, which proved invaluable and helped to allay any fears they may have had.
Viv also had input into the plan which as Dave said,
“It was hard but had to be done, but it felt like a weight had been lifted.”
After coming back into the Day Therapy Unit in late June, the decision was made to transfer her to the In Patient Unit.
“The doctors we’re seeing us many times during the days, keeping us informed of everything. The last 3-4 nights we were here 24 hours a day, it was just precious time that we wouldn’t have had in another environment,” Sarah said.
“Nobody knew when the end was coming so you can’t leave; you want to be there. To do that in the environment we were given was just fantastic,” Dave added.
Sarah had a special mention for the Doctors who oversaw her mum’s care.
“They know about medicine and genuinely care about the person they’re dealing with. They told us everything in terms we could understand, which made things easier.
“I’d seen the nurses do things that others didn’t find time to do for Mum. It’s the suggestions they make towards the end, the simple things that make the difference.
“Like they suggested her having ice pops and she loved the ice pops. And that’s what real care is to me,” Sarah concluded.
‘Team Viv’ have raised £1695 so far from taking part in the Dougie Mac 5K and Sarah’s Potteries Marathon, with donations still coming in.