‘Next Christmas isn’t promised, so St Catherine’s Hospice is helping me to enjoy this time at home with my family’
“I’m really going to make the most of this Christmas and enjoy it as much as possible, because next Christmas isn’t promised to me.”
A Penwortham dad living with life-shortening illnesses is determined to make this Christmas extra special for his family, and has credited St Catherine’s Hospice for enabling him to enjoy this poignant time of year at home.
Scott Leadbetter shared his experience with us earlier this year, and is bravely speaking out again to thank the charity for supporting him to remain at home surrounded by his loved ones, whilst managing the symptoms of heart failure and lung condition COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
“I’m really, really looking forward to Christmas this year,” he says. “I’ll be at home with my wife Stacey and we’ll cook Christmas dinner together, and then we’ll be going to see her family in the evening for a games night. I’m excited for Boxing Day too when we’re having my family round including my grandchildren. I’m going to cook a gammon and we’ll do a buffet and give the kids their presents.”
Former mechanic Scott is receiving palliative care from the St Catherine’s community nurses – the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) team – and says they have given him the motivation to start ticking things off his bucket list, including going on holiday and learning to play the guitar.
The dad-of-three and grandad-of-seven says: “Our St Catherine’s nurse told us about another charity for carers which helps people to do nice things for themselves, to spend quality time together, and we were able to have a few nights in a log cabin in the Lake District.
“I went in a hot tub for the first time in my life! And we went fishing which we’ve never done together before. We had a great time and it’s been one of our highlights of the year.”
He adds: “Before St Catherine’s came into our lives, we were in denial and we couldn’t accept what was happening. It was like life was on hold and we were in turmoil, letting the condition control everything about our lives.
“But the hospice nurses have given me the inspiration to enjoy life again. They’ve helped me to focus on the here and now, to live for today. I’ve learnt to appreciate the small things in life and to be grateful for the positives. I know I need to pace myself, but we made the decision earlier this year to start doing things we’ve always talked about.
“I always feel more motivated when our nurse Emma has been round. She gives us both a bit of ‘oomph’ to enjoy life and make the most of the time we have.”
“I’m told that I probably don’t have years; it’s more likely to be months or even weeks,” Scott says. “But I’ve defied the odds before and I’m determined to keep going. My mission was to get to Christmas and I’m feeling pretty good at the moment, so now my aim is to make it to my 50th birthday in August next year; I want to have the biggest party ever!”
Stacey, 35, a senior nursing assistant, says: “The minute Emma walks through the door, we’re all beaming. She just puts our mind at rest about a lot of things. She rings the GP for us and gets medication sorted out, and it really takes the pressure off. It can be emotionally draining having to constantly ring people, and it makes such a difference having someone there to deal with it for you and take that pressure away. It means we can focus on doing nice things together and spending time with our family.
“She also got Scott a special deck chair-style back rest for when he’s in bed. Because of the COPD, he can’t lie down properly because he struggles to breathe, and the back rest means he can be comfortable in bed. He’s sleeping so much better, and it’s things like that – which most of us take for granted – which really impact on your quality of life.
“The St Catherine’s advice line is absolutely amazing as well. I rang them during the night once when Scott had fallen and I wasn’t sure whether to go to hospital. They calmed me down, offered advice and gave me the confidence to know I was making the right decision for him. They even rang me back the next day to see how we were getting on, which meant the absolute world to me.”
Stacey adds: “Overall this year has been a good one for us. There have been difficulties and challenges and we’ve had some tough days, but when we look back on 2022 we realise that we’ve had some really lovely experiences. We really needed that break away and it was nice just to be Scott and Stacey again, doing things we’d never done before and spending normal time together as a couple, which is really important.
“Now we’re excited about Christmas and looking forward to the New Year.”
- As a charity we rely on the incredible support of our community to raise much-needed funds. If you would like to make a donation at this special time of year, please click here.
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