Diana King was amazed by the support she received from our Social Care team after her brother, Stephen Smith, came into our care shortly before he died. He was just 57 years old.

“My brother was such a lovely, patient, and happy-go-lucky kind of person. He loved his children, they were his world. He would do anything for them. Even when he was diagnosed with lung cancer he was more worried about how we would feel, and shielding us from the pain and the worry. That’s the sort of person he was.

“It started with a cough in October 2017, and he didn’t go to the doctors about it until the following March. That’s when he got his diagnosis. I took him to all of his chemotherapy sessions and stayed with him. It made him so poorly, it was just horrendous.

“In 2019, he was fortunate enough to have successful immunotherapy treatment. That was his good year. He travelled to lots of places in the UK, flew over to Dublin, Malta and even went to India for three weeks with his friend in December. We were worried silly of course, but he came back for Christmas and he was just beaming.

“As he was doing so well, the doctors said they wanted to operate and get rid of the tumour all together. So he went into hospital in March 2020, just days before we went into lockdown. Sadly, the tumour was deeper than they thought.

“Once they operated, COVID hit. We couldn’t see him in hospital, and many treatments were no longer being offered. From then on he was just in pain. That was the hardest part. Seeing him in pain and not being able to help him. I just wanted to take his pain away. All I could do was pray to the angels ‘please help him’, and going to Willen Hospice was the answer to our prayers.

“It took about a week at Willen to get his pain relief to a manageable level. But, in the second week, oh my goodness, what a change! It was like having the old Steve back; joking, smiling and laughing. He was being fed beautiful food three times a day, medication whenever he needed it, and the nurses were so lovely. I couldn’t believe how well they helped the family too, not just the patient. I wanted Steve to be looked after, but it was a big surprise that they were going to help us as a family as well.

“As soon as Steve went into the Hospice I got a phone call from Linda Glen, the Adult Social Care Worker at Willen. She is such a lovely lady, and so patient. I even cried in front of her. She just understood, and it’s like she’s become a friend. I told Hayley, the mother of Steve’s children, about the extra support and she said with relief, ‘Oh yes please, if someone could help.’ So Linda arranged for Jackie McLeod, the Children & Family Social Worker, to have Hayley’s number. Jackie then helped with her and the children.

“Steve passed away at Willen Hospice on 20 June 2021. When I went over the day after to collect Steve’s belongings, Linda was so helpful. I’d never dealt with losing someone and booking things. She gave me everything I needed, registering the death, booking the funeral… she was there for us.

“There aren’t enough thank yous in us for what they did for my brother. For his funeral we did family flowers only, and set up an online giving page for Willen Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support in Steve’s memory. Next year, around the anniversary of his passing, we’d like to do a memory walk around the lake and hopefully raise some more money”