Ryan Corlett was 23 when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer. After various treatments at a London hospital, he was told there wasn’t anything else that could be done, and he was put in touch with St Helena Hospice. Six weeks later, Ryan married the love of his life, Danielle, and they spent their remaining months together making memories. They were together at St Helena Hospice when Ryan died shortly after his 25th birthday.
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Danielle shares their full story below:
“Just before Christmas Ryan got really poorly. They said now is the time to use hospice services as much as possible. He wanted to stay at home so the hospice in the home team came out to support him.
“His regular hospice nurse would come out every couple of weeks to make sure everything was ok and she was in regular contact on the phone. The only thing was the pain because there was not much I could do, so having St Helena on the other end of the phone was really good. If he was in pain, I could just call and get someone out or get advice over the phone. That was when I felt the most helpless because there’s not much you can do. There were a couple of occasions in the middle of the night where he suddenly got these sharp pains and there was nothing that we had that could control it, so SinglePoint gave advice. It was really handy to have them on the end of the phone and for them to just pop out whenever.
“The hospice told him he was welcome to go in but because they had made so many provisions for him to stay at home, I think he felt very supported by them. He always felt he could speak with them and they would support what he wanted. We’d had conversations and the syringe driver had given him months of feeling without pain. As the disease progressed, he started to feel much weaker he wanted to value the time that we had, so he said it would be nice if he could go in and have symptom control and manage it again, but also to give us the time to do things together as he had much more increasing needs as the days went on. I said it was his choice, whatever he wanted.
“We’d been on a little trip away again just the week before he went into the hospice. While we were there we discussed it and he said ‘once we get back, I’d like to go in’.
“I’ve always found the hospice quite peaceful. It was a nice environment to be in because we had a lot of support and there are nice memories there. We still got to spend time together, even spending time together in the room just watching tv.
“Having St Helena’s support meant we didn’t have to worry about all the other stuff; being able to just focus on spending time together was the nicest thing. I remember Ryan enjoying the sensory bath there. It’s just little things like that. Nothing in particular, just remembering the nice times that we had spending time together.
“I stayed there every night on a little pop up bed. He was only in there five days I think, which was really nice because that was exactly his wishes. He wanted to stay at home as long as possible but I think he wanted to be in there for the end. I thought how comfortable the hospice made him and how accommodating they were to any requests we had.
“When we both finally settled in for the evening, we kissed and said we loved each other, then went to sleep. Something woke me in the early hours of the morning which I cannot explain but I jumped out of bed to check on Ryan. That’s when I immediately knew he had gone. He looked so peaceful and although completely heartbroken, I felt strangely calm and part of me felt peaceful too. Although I wished I could hold onto him forever, looking back, it happened in the best way for us both.
“I will always be grateful to St Helena Hospice for supporting us in a dignified and individual way that let me continue to be involved in caring for Ryan, as we both wanted, but giving us the extra helping hands so we could continue to spend time together. I will always treasure the happy memories we made and feel grateful for the time we had together.”
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