Following Keri’s death, Kate posted a photo of her feeding Shannon on Facebook and received over 61,000 likes. The photo that moved people from around the world shows hospice care at its best – personalised, compassionate and caring.
“Keri was the most outgoing, lively person I knew. She was the life and soul of every party. She loved her job as a cabin crew member at EasyJet where she was the longest serving crew member. My big sister by three years, we were like chalk and cheese – but were always there for each other.
She was 37 when she was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Throughout Keri’s illness we always believed her cancer was curable. It was only the day before she came to Keech we found out it was terminal.
We were at a Zumba class when Keri first complained that her chest felt tight.Thinking it was a chest infection she went to the doctor and was given some tablets to clear it up. When the pills failed to work she was sent for an x-ray.The x-ray showed a shadow – her lungs were coated with fluid. The diagnosis came soon after.
Keri shut herself away for a while and then, being Keri, decided she needed to fight it. Her son Joshua was just 16 at the time. In truth we were all very blasé about the treatment. We just knew she was going to get better. At the time I think it helped as we didn’t dwell on it.
Our parents live in Spain and took it in turns coming over. Keri had multiple rounds of chemo which she sailed through. She was still continuing to ride her horse and even competed in a dressage competition which she won. It wasn’t until she started radiotherapy that she really went downhill.
Keri started collapsing at home. Mum called the hospital and Keri was admitted.The next day I discovered Keri trying to check herself out. She just couldn’t face being on the ward. That was so like Keri. In the end she checked herself into the private wing.
It was then that we found out the cancer had spread to all her organs. Mum and Dad were both there. In my head I knew it was coming.
She wasn’t herself – she looked so ill. I think to Keri the diagnosis was almost a relief. She was so poorly. We were all in shock – you just don’t take it all in, it’s a bizarre feeling.
The next day we moved to Keech – and not just Keri but the whole family and all of Keri’s closest friends and colleagues from EasyJet. We were relieved to come here as Keri hated the hospital.
Keri stayed at Keech for eight days. It was amazing, the nurses and staff accommodated all of us so warmly. Having everyone here was important to Keri. She would often ask “is so and so here” and I’d say yes just a couple of rooms away. That pleased her.
A doctor asked Keri if there was anything she wanted them to do. Keri said she wanted to see her horse Shannon and feed her for the last time. The next thing we saw was a horse box coming up the lane – Keech had made it happen!
We pushed Keri’s bed outside. When she called out to Shannon it was the first time I had heard her voice upbeat in ages. Shannon came straight over.
It was such a moving experience.
Her end was very peaceful with all Keri’s friends and family gathered round. Keech was the right place to be.
We were all chatting and laughing. Dad apologised to the nurses for all the noise we were making, only to be told how lovely it was to hear laughter. That just summed up the Keech experience for me. They did everything possible to make all of us feel comfortable and at home.
Following Keri’s death I posted the picture of Keri and Shannon at Keech onto facebook. I couldn’t believe how many likes it got!
It was going up a thousand likes every couple of minutes! I think the photo touched many people. To me it makes me happy that Keri knew how much she was loved and cared for by everyone right up until the very end.”
To find out more about the work of Keech Hospice Care, visit the website.