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Ashgate Hospice > Kimberley’s story part four: Finding out my husband had months to live

Kimberley Greaves is a young widow, aged just 44. Her husband, Andrew, had gone through months of intensive treatment for bladder cancer and battled COVID. She was praying that things were about to pick up for her husband Andrew. Tragically, that wouldn’t be the case. We bring you the fourth instalment of her series here: 

Devastatingly, we were told in February 2021 that my husband Andrew couldn’t continue with his treatment as there were too many signs of active cancer. Instead, they referred us to the palliative care team at Ashgate Hospice. We were so upset but I had to remain hopeful – for Andrew and our kids.  

His oncologist agreed to see him again after six weeks and if his overall health improved then his treatment could restart. I was determined that we could fatten Andrew up and get him well.

After all, his fever had gone, and we were told that the pain in his back could be rectified with some local radiotherapy. 

However, Andrew didn’t get any better. In fact, he was vomiting a lot at home, he was lethargic and spent a lot of time in bed.  

The turning point came at an appointment for an MRI scan. He was terrified that he’d be too poorly for the appointment and carried a sick bowl throughout the journey in the car. This appointment was important to us. The results would determine whether he could have the localised radiotherapy to ease his pain. 

Andrew was now too weak to walk far and so we had organised for him to have a wheelchair. It breaks my heart that I had to push this usually strong man and I think it broke his a little too.

I wheeled him into his appointment, but I was asked to leave him in the waiting area and step outside into the hospital corridor. Once his appointment was over, he was wheeled back out to me. He told me he’d got into a panic during his scan and used the alarm. He hated every moment. 

By this point I’d been on the phone to the community palliative care nurses at Ashgate Hospice every day. I couldn’t bear to see Andrew suffer.  

He wasn’t able to gain weight because of the sickness and he was very sleepy and in a lot of pain.  His medication was regularly being switched and his dosage increased. We pinned a piece of paper to the wardrobe next to his bed so we could keep track of all his meds, there were so many. 

I made a desperate call to his nurse at Ashgate Hospice and broke down in tears. Andrew was not improving, and we had another three weeks to go until his next hospital appointment. I desperately needed him well.  

The nurse suggested a few days in the hospice so he could be monitored and have his medication reviewed. Andrew had sadly lost his Dad at the hospice eight-and-a-half years before, so I was worried that this would upset him. I wasn’t sure how Andrew would feel, but as it was, he was in full agreement.  

The following morning, we received the call to say there was a bed available. I was incredibly relieved; the hospice was lovely, and the nurse told us that they were very experienced at helping patients get strong so they can have treatment. The hospice felt like a welcome relief for Andrew. 

However, later that evening Andrew was taken to hospital for further tests as he had become delirious, he was suffering with anaemia and required a blood transfusion. When I arrived, Andrew was barely conscious. He was not the same man I’d left in the hospice just 24 hours before. 

Andrew spent just over two weeks in hospital. He relied on me massively to be his voice. He was usually such a confident man, but I was beginning to see a much more vulnerable and emotional Andrew. 

The doctors told us Andrew’s cancer had spread further – even the radiotherapy that we’d been keeping our fingers crossed for wouldn’t help him.  

Now all we could hope for was getting the right care in place so that Andrew could spend what time he had left at home.  

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.