‘It felt like the Rowans Hospice at Home service had given us the best of both worlds’  

Alanis Sword (left) with her mum Micala (second left), Alan Symonds and Zoe Martindale at the Rowans Moonlit Memories walk in 2013
Alanis Sword (left) with her mum Micala (second left), Alan Symonds and Zoe Martindale at the Rowans Moonlit Memories walk in 2013
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Promoted by Rowans Hospice

 Alanis Sword talks about how her mum, Micala, was cared for by the Rowans Hospice at Home team

I’ve got a picture of me, my mum and my grandad doing the Moonlit Memories Walk for the Rowans Hospice. It was when I was at school back in 2013.

The Sword family. Back: Jordan, Alanis and Harrison. Front: Micala and Glen

The Sword family. Back: Jordan, Alanis and Harrison. Front: Micala and Glen

My mum, Micala, always supported the Rowans even though she had never used it. It was because it was a local charity. However, I now make sure I do the walk every year because of what the Rowans did for us as a family.

Also I feel it is important for me to tell my story so people get to know about the amazing care the Rowans Hospice at Home team give, as we didn’t even know they existed.

In January 2016 we found out that the surgery, radiotherapy and the chemotherapy mum had undergone over the past year to remove her brain tumour hadn’t been successful as we originally thought.

During her first routine check-up the x-rays showed it had grown back. It literally covered half her brain.

Micala Sword

Micala Sword

Knowing her determination, they offered her a different type of chemotherapy. Mum being mum, she underwent the therapy whilst continuing to do what she loved, teaching at Sharps Corpse School in Portsmouth.

Unfortunately the treatment didn’t work. Then in February half-term she started to deteriorate and was unable to go back to work. We knew it was just a matter of time.

It was only when things were nearing the end, when mum kept being sick, that we went to the doctors and they suggested about getting the Rowans involved.

This put my dad’s back up straight away and he said ‘no, we are not going in the hospice’, as he knew my mum wanted to be at home.

Rowans corporate partners

Rowans corporate partners

It was then that the doctor told us the Hospice at Home team could come out to mum at home and help her manage her symptoms. Knowing we had this option made it so much easier.

Mum got both her wishes, just to be at home with everybody whilst being cared for at the same time. It really felt like we had been given the best of both worlds.

Within about an hour of this conversation and the doctor phoning the Rowans, the nurses from the Hospice at Home team were in our home, helping us to care for mum. They made all of us feel calmer and stayed as constant support to all of us over the next 48 hours.

Straight away I remember how they sat down and chatted with me and my brothers, making sure we were involved in everything they were doing. They made it clear they were coming in to help us and not take over.

My nan and grandad were also there, so the house was full. They obviously could see that we hadn’t slept and eaten, so they were making us cups of tea and making conversation with all of us about mum.

We talked about what she liked and laughed about all the happy memories. The nurses even made the time to play with our two chaotic puppies and sorted out mum’s bed so that her puppy Bella could jump up and lie next to her.

They were amazing. They made sure it wasn’t just my mum that was okay, they literally looked after the whole family. As well as caring for her professionally, because they were so down to earth and bubbly, for mum it was more like having friends with her.

They made sure her hair was done, she had all of her special creams on and she had a spray of her favourite perfume. They treated her as a human and with dignity and respect, even right up to the moments after she had passed away.

It was on April 28, 2016 when mum passed away. She had her mum and dad, my dad, all of us three children in the room and my brother’s fiancee with her. This is exactly what she wanted.

We also had peace of mind knowing that the Hospice at Home nurses were in the next room, ready to support us as soon as we asked.

I am sure the support of the Hospice at Home team meant mum felt more relaxed. She knew we were all going to be okay, because the support received from the Rowans assured her that we would all get the support we needed afterwards – and we have.

Thanks to the Rowans, what could have been a bad experience wasn’t. That is why every year I will continue to make a dedication at the Lake of Lights event and take part in the Moonlight Walk, to remember my mum, to show my thanks this amazing bunch of workers and give back to this amazing charity.

We can’t thank them enough for what they did for us.