Volunteers and staff at St Giles Hospice will be going above and beyond to help patients, and their families, living with a terminal illness create special memories this festive season.
One person who is familiar with the support St Giles provides over Christmas is Sheila Shaw, whose daughter, Mandy Shaw, was cared for during the festive period in 2021.
As Sheila’s first Christmas without Mandy approaches, she’s looked back and relived the special memories that they created together with the support from volunteers and staff at St Giles. She said: “All of us are so grateful that Mandy spent her final Christmas at St Giles Hospice. I don’t know what we would’ve done without them – St Giles gave Mandy her life back – and she enjoyed such a special Christmas during the short time she was there.”
Sheila’s daughter Mandy spent her final weeks in St Giles Hospice after being diagnosed with a rare cancer called T-cell lymphoma, which attacks the skin. Her condition went undiagnosed for a couple of years and Mandy spent a few Christmases really suffering with her illness – but as soon as she arrived at St Giles in late 2021, she “absolutely blossomed”, according to Sheila.
Sheila continued: “She was singing and happy, and lots of people were able to go in and visit her. We were all overjoyed to see Mandy looking so well – her skin was radiant, she was content and she was no longer suffering. There was my beautiful daughter back again.
“The whole ambience of Christmas at St Giles was truly wonderful. There were lots of fairy lights and Christmas trees, and Mandy watched for hours as the lights twinkled up to her bedroom ceiling. The staff did everything they could to make the festivities special for us all – from singing carols, to sharing mince pies. It really was a standout Christmas, giving us memories to treasure and hold in our hearts forever.”
Sheila is encouraging people to support St Giles Hospice this festive season to ensure other patients and their families, like hers, can make lasting memories throughout their final Christmas together.
“We would’ve been lost without St Giles, which is why I’d encourage people to make a donation this Christmas, no matter how big or small. Whilst we’re all mourning Mandy’s loss, the fact that she was feeling so positive in her final days is a real comfort to us all. My family and I are at peace, and while Mandy was at St Giles, she also had peace, along with such love and care. Mandy was just 51 when she died and she had the perfect last Christmas at St Giles, which is all thanks to the generosity of kind local people.”
Hazel Smith, Healthcare Assistant at St Giles Hospice, added: “We’d encourage everyone to donate what they can this Christmas and help give other families living with a terminal illness a festive season filled with love. We know that times are difficult for many at the moment, so we’re truly grateful for any donation you can make.”
£15 could help to pay for decorations, mince pies and a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for our patients.
£30 could help to give a patient, and their loved ones, treasured memories of one last Christmas together.
£60 could help to provide specialist nursing care for a patient like Sheila’s daughter, Mandy, on Christmas Day.
To donate today, please visit: www.stgileshospice.com/christmas-care
To read more of Sheila’s story, please visit: www.stgileshospice.com/how-we-can-help-you/media-centre/your-stories/sheilas-story
St Giles Hospice is a registered charity offering high-quality specialist care free of charge for people living with diseases which are terminal or incurable as well as providing support for their families and carers.
Patients come from across the hospice’s catchment area, which ranges from Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Atherstone in the east, to Cannock in the west – and from Burton and Uttoxeter in the north, to Sutton Coldfield and Coleshill in the south.
Care is offered at the hospice’s centres in Whittington and Sutton Coldfield and in patients’ own homes across the region.
St Giles spends over £10 million a year providing its specialist services and with little more than a third of this funded by the Government, the registered charity relies heavily on donations and income generation from the local community.