Tricia Sanchez was in the final weeks of her life just as the Covid-19 pandemic began. Here her sons Billy and Eric Macinnes share their experience of her care at The Myton Hospice in Warwick, and what it was like to lose their mother during the lockdown.
Our mum, Tricia Sanchez, was diagnosed with Stage 4 small cell lung cancer in June 2019. She faced her disease with humour and great courage.
A native of Glasgow, Tricia had lived almost equal parts of her 76 years as a child and young woman in Scotland, a married mum of two sons in Zambia, Africa, and a widow and disabilities fundraiser in Leamington Spa. She was intelligent, beautiful, sociable and full of strong opinions, and never ‘feart’ [afraid] to express them.
Caring for our mum at home
We both live in other countries – Ireland and in the Middle East – but once she was diagnosed we both took it in turns to stay with our mum in her apartment in Leamington. We helped care for her up until her passing a few moments after midnight on the 30th March 2020.
The last two weeks of her life were spent in the amazing care of Warwick Myton Hospice. She had wanted to stay at home until the end, but as the cancer metastasized to her brain in January the effects were quickly evident and devastating, as she lost control of her body, her speech, and her thoughts.
Our mum had superb care from her wonderful GP, from the District Nurses and the South Warwickshire cross-discipline care teams. But we were soon exhausted, overwhelmed emotionally and mentally, and constantly worrying. The final straw was when mum had a fall at night and bashed her head. It was a great relief when we heard there was a bed for her on Myton’s Inpatient Unit.
Hospice care during the pandemic
Thanks to the calm atmosphere, the professionalism of the doctors and nurses and her lovely room, she was soon stabilized and comfortable. Though it was almost impossible for her to speak, she was so happy to have family and friends visit, enjoying the proximity of people who loved her, in a warm, safe and secure environment.
A week into her stay at the hospice, the government announced the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown which was a time of great uncertainty for everyone. The team at Myton were immediately reassuring, making sure we were able to continue visiting safely, but most importantly, confirming that she wouldn’t be moved from the hospice while the national emergency continued.
Just as they cared for mum they also cared for us, her sons. The doctors and nurses were always available to tell us what was going on. They kept us topped up with tea, coffee and smiles, and in the last few days gave us the use of a family room to sleep and freshen up.
We spent those last two weeks with mum, the three of us together every day, supported by discreet and superb care that allowed us to just concentrate on being close to each other for the time we had left.
Our mum died peacefully in her sleep. She will be missed by us all; sons, daughters-in-law, six grandchildren, as well as childhood, lifelong and new friends. She wasn’t at home when she passed, but it was the closest place to home she could have had. For that, we will always be grateful.
- To find a hospice near you visit Hospice UK’s hospice finder