When father-of-one Stephen Lee was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer at just 52 he set about making lasting memories for his family.
His daughter Kitty was just 10 years-old at the time and Stephen, a managing director at Regal Precision Engineers in Colne, was determined to try and continue to live life as normal as possible for Kitty and his wife Sue.
“He was so brave. He kept going to work as normal up until a month before he died. He felt that he needed normality and he wanted Kitty to see him get up and go to work, he didn’t want her to see him in bed poorly,” Sue said.
Stephen had suffered stomach pains prior to his diagnosis, however as a fit and healthy man they had no reason to suspect anything serious.
After his diagnosis he was referred to Pendleside Hospice by his doctor to provide him and his family with support and help him to make the most of the time he had.
“He loved it at Pendleside. He would pop along to use the gym when he fancied it, have complementary therapy and attend medical outpatients. He had a really good relationship with the staff, they had a real laugh and he felt very uplifted when he came home. People often think of hospices as depressing places, but it’s not like that at all, there’s a lot of life that goes on.
“He would also see a counsellor who really helped him to get his thought process in order. They worked on putting plans in place to support his future care wishes including how he wanted it to be at the very end. That kept him really focused.
“The hospice encouraged Stephen to make us memory boxes and write us letters, he also recorded himself reading the Night Before Christmas, a book that he’d read with Kitty on Christmas Eve. It’s so lovely having these to look at, especially when we are having a tough day.”
Stephen also spent a week in inpatients to help with pain management, during which time he was told that his condition had deteriorated.
“During the last month Stephen stopped working and the hospice at home team started visiting. He was determined to have one last Christmas with Kitty, just the three of us, but the hospice at home team were on hand in case we needed them.
“On Boxing Day I called the hospice at home team who stayed with us until Stephen died. They also managed to make sure he died just how he would have wanted, tucked up in bed with me, Kitty and the dog with him. They were fantastic, I don’t know how we would have got through those days without them.”
Stephen died on December 27th aged 53. Since his death Sue and Kitty have remained close to Pendleside attending the Christmas Candle lighting Service and the Time for Reflection service in his memory. Sue has also attended complementary therapy sessionsand they have been to family therapy.
“Attending the services has been really beneficial, they really lifted our spirits and it was lovely just to hear his name again. Kitty has fond thoughts of the hospice as she knows that Dad loved it there, and I think there is a connection with the hospice that we will always have.”