by Jean Sampson
Normally this column is about Nutrition but something happened this week that affected me so strongly that I had to write about it.
Alan’s Story……. My husband Alan was diagnosed with terminal cancer three and a half years ago. He battled valiantly against this horrendous disease. He attended Carlos Haya hospital during this time, undergoing an operation and enduring years of chemotherapy without complaint in order to prolong his life. The medical staff were fantastic and did all they could to help him. Sadly he lost his battle last December.
During the latter period of his illness we were told about CUDECA the cancer charity and told to go and register with them as they could help with palliative care. Alan’s doctor, Dr Benavidez also urged us to make contact with them. I made the first tentative steps in November of 06 and made an appointment for us to go to the hospice in Arroyo de la Miel.
The building is quite impressive and the first feeling you have when you walk through the door is that of calmness. The staff in reception, mostly volunteers are all friendly and speak both Spanish and English (they may well speak other languages I do not know). On our first visit we met with the medical staff who, were all caring and could not do enough for us. We had a couple of further appointments to see how Alan and I were coping and they were very encouraging and you came away feeling that you were not alone.
Anyone who has had experience of this wonderful charity will understand what I mean.
In 2005 the hospice through donations, legacies etc opened a new wing the in-patients department. This is a self contained section in the centre. There are 9 rooms with en-suite facilities and private terraces. There is a small lawn, pergolas and a fish pond, views from the rooms and terraces are down to the Mediterranean, it gives out a feeling of peace and tranquillity in a place where there is real sorrow. There is a visitor’s room and a small place for people to have their own thoughts in worship together with the normal rooms for nursing staff and doctors. Whoever designed this place wants a medal as it is such a soothing and calming area.
In September of last year Alan’s illness progressed rapidly and the wonderful doctor and nurse, Pablo and Oscar came out to see us in our own home. They were kind but I knew it was only a matter of time before Alan would leave me because they made me aware of this and said Alan should be in hospital.
Three days before he died we took him into the in-patients department. The care and attention that is given from the compassionate staff is no understatement. I and our family were told what was happening and we can never ever thank them enough for making Alan’s last days as comfortable as is humanly possible in these horrid situations. We never paid a penny for all the treatment, visits or medication they gave us. We managed to raise over 1000euros in donations for the charity from family and friends who wished to remember Alan.
So it was with shock and horror that I received a letter from the charity to say that sadly unless they can find further funding for this unit it may well have to close by the end of the year they have a shortfall in funding to the tune of 500.000euro not a small sum. The letter in effect asked all who had benefited from their loved ones being in the hospice if they could contribute on an annual basis, this I will be doing. But it surely will not be enough so I am asking for help for anyone I can.
CUDECA is a special place that is needed and will always be needed closing the in-patients department must not happen. Please can you help? By a donation or monthly/annual subscription anything!. to help this wonderful charity keep this unit open. One day you or one of your relatives may need their help. My heart is very heavy as I write this it is so important there is nothing else like the hospice here on the Costa del sol. Please Please Help.
Many Many thanks Jean Sampson. [email protected] if you want any help.
Ps This is written solely by me and it is how I see the hospice through my own eyes