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Ashgate Hospice > Kimberley’s story part three: Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the pandemic hit

Kimberley Greaves is a young widow, aged just 44. Navigating life with aggressive cancer was difficult enough for Kimberley and her husband Andrew. Just as it seemed life couldn’t get any more difficult, the pandemic hit. We bring you the third instalment of her series here: 

Andrew and I had talked for many years about going on a cruise. I decided that as a family we needed something to look forward to, so as a complete surprise to Andrew and the kids, I booked us all on our very first cruise.  

We were set to sail on the 10th April 2020. It was a perfectly planned trip that took into account Andrew’s treatment plan and would see us sail around the Canary Islands during the Easter holidays.

Our son is football mad and has a huge obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo. The ship was due to stop in Madeira and Jayden would get to see Cristiano Ronaldo’s museum and hotel! 

I put together a presentation and showed it to Andrew. He was completely overwhelmed and even started crying. The kids were beyond excited. Finally, something good was about to happen and we had something positive to look forward to. 

Then, out of nowhere, COVID hit and our much-needed holiday was postponed.  

Even worse, the pandemic outbreak meant that Andrew’s treatment was delayed by three months, and he was forced to attend hospital appointments by himself. 

Andrew began immunotherapy – a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer – in August 2020. He started to struggle almost immediately.

He found himself with terrible earache; suffered with chest pain and back pain; A&E started to become a regular occurrence for Andrew. And he also started to notice a return of the blood in his urine. 

Tragically in October, Andrew was told that the cancer had spread further and was now in his liver. He underwent further treatment to target the cancer in this area, but he started to feel even worse. He was in agonising pain in his lower back, side, and in his chest. 

Andrew started to develop a temperature in December. After trying to self-medicate at home, it soon became clear that Andrew needed professional help.

On 18th December, he was admitted into hospital where soon after he tested positive for COVID. I was relieved to hear that Andrew was being discharged just a few days after he had been admitted.

However, my joy was short-lived because it was obvious when I collected him that day, that he was much more ill than when he had been admitted. 

Andrew did his best to enjoy Christmas at home but by the 27th December, he was back in hospital. He had continued to struggle with a fever, but he’d also lost his appetite and had very little energy.

He was started again on IV antibiotics and fluids. Frustratingly, the chest x-rays and CT scans didn’t really give us any answers. 

I noticed through talking to him on the phone, that he was breathless and tired. He found it difficult to complete a phone conversation, it took a lot of his energy.

Sometimes we would just text as it became difficult for him to talk. There were times where I wouldn’t hear from him for hours because he was sleeping so much. I could tell he wasn’t getting better, and I was concerned about him coming home again before he was ready. 

Several days later he was discharged home where he continued to struggle.  

By early January 2021, another lockdown had started, and our two children were both home from school. The online learning at our daughter’s secondary school was very good and she would spend all day in her bedroom taking part in live lessons. Our son however, at seven years old, needed my full attention.  

I was also working from home throughout all this time and Andrew was too weak to help with the home schooling. I was worried about our son being home and witnessing the decline of his dad’s health. I reached out to his school, and they allowed him to return full-time.  

Just a few days into the New Year and Andrew was  readmitted into hospital. We weren’t sure if he was struggling with long term COVID or cancer symptoms. 

Andrew ended up staying in hospital much longer this time. His symptoms became a bit of a mystery.  

Heartbreakingly, I wasn’t able to visit Andrew in hospital due to the restrictions, but I was back and forth bringing belongings to him and taking his laundry away.

As he was in a private room, I was able to stand on the pavement and talk to him as he stood at his room window. He would always reassure me that he was starting to feel better. I hoped with every fibre of my being that this was true. 

We will be releasing a new instalment of Kimberley’s story every Saturday. Please check our website and social media for the next part of the series.