One afternoon, Dixie was spending time with his grandson. He was sitting on a stool, having a cup of tea – enjoying the little things in life, when his vision began to blur. He shrugged it off, thinking it would pass like the headaches he’d been having, but it didn’t go away.

It got worse.  At first he couldn’t reach for his cup – then he realised he couldn’t see or reach for anything. Jules, his wife, told him to go to the doctor’s surgery in the morning. Usually, Dixie wouldn’t have bothered but there was something off.

Just three days later, Dixie was diagnosed with an untreatable brain tumour, Glioblastoma Stage 4 – a vicious cancer that can go anywhere and attack everywhere. He was given 12 to 15 months to live.

Dixie’s thoughts spiralled; keeping him awake at night. He was thinking about Jules and his kids – worrying about the impact it would have on their lives. He found the only way to deal with his feelings was to write them down. And that’s when he turned to poetry. He had written poems before, mainly for Jules, but these poems were different.

They were only intended to be read by his nearest and dearest, but a close friend suggested he turned them into a book, with the profits being donated to the Brain Tumour Research charity.

Behind Dixie’s humour and wit, you could tell he was truly proud of his poetry collection – it was something he never thought he would achieve. And it is his legacy – keeping his words and thoughts alive for his wife, children and friends.

As Dixie’s condition deteriorated, he needed the specialist palliative care of Willen Hospice. He was struggling with his physical and mental wellbeing and was admitted to our In-Patient Unit for a week. With that familiar twinkle in his eye, Dixie’s praise wasn’t limited to the care he received, he also loved to mention the mince beef pie made from scratch by the Hospice cooks!

The atmosphere of the Hospice, overlooking Willen Lake, made a profound impact on his overall wellbeing. However, the most important thing for Dixie was the care he received from our nurses – or as he called them – his friends.

Sadly, Dixie King died in March 2022 under the care of Willen Hospice’s community nursing team, ‘Willen at Home’. Dixie kindly gifted a signed copy of his poetry book, My Pensive Moods, to Willen Hospice in the hope that the collection would help others in a similar situation to him and his family.

Discovery, a poem by Dixie King

This journey of mine will come to an end,

Certain things I just can’t mend.

I’ve learnt so much along the way,

To make the most of day to day.

I’ve laughed a lot, smiled a lot, trying not to frown.

I haven’t let this cancer grind me down.

I’m thankful for my friends and family,

For all their help and support,

I’ve done what I can, when I can,

And I’m proud of the battle I’ve fought.

I’ve joked about cancer, made fun of it,

It’s taken the edge off, bit by bit.

I appreciate every little thing, no matter how trivial,

It’s made things easier, more pivotal.

I’ve tried not to worry about what can’t be changed,

One way or another, I’ve managed.

As a bit of fun and to get some perks,

I’ve even played the ‘C’ card, yes it works!

It’s not been a bed of roses, I can’t lie.

It’s been difficult, trying not to cry.

Most of all, one thing I’ve found out,

Is my self-worth and what I’m about.

 

When the Building a Legacy project is complete, our new Wellbeing Centre will be able to host creative therapy groups, including poetry and creative writing, for patients like Dixie. So, they too, can express how they are feeling and leave a legacy for their family and friends to remember them by.

We are grateful to Dixie and his family for sharing his story.