Fiona lived for her family; her husband Gareth and their two daughters, Abbie and Amy. As long as they were happy and doing what they wanted to do, Fiona was content with her life. They lived on the family farm in Ardrossan and could regularly be found exhibiting sheep and cattle at shows across Scotland. But, just after Christmas in 2014, life for the family changed when Fiona started to feel unwell. By the spring of 2015, Fiona had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Despite regular trips to hospital, undergoing surgery and enduring a rigorous plan of chemotherapy, Fiona’s cancer did not go away. By April 2016, Fiona was exhausted and needed a break from treatment, and this is when the family were introduced to the Ayrshire Hospice.

After home visits from the Respite & Response team, Fiona went to stay at the Hospice for 10 days to assist with pain management. Fiona was very apprehensive at first by then she met with Charlie at the Hospice, who went through care plans and explained how the whole family would be supported. Charlie gave Fiona the reassurance she needed to know that her family would be cared for when she wouldn’t be able to do it herself.

The team at the Ayrshire Hospice also visited Fiona at home to help maintain pain control and the enabled Fiona and her family to go on their last holiday together to Centre Parcs in Penrith. They were joined by Fiona’s mum, Gareth’s mum, sister and children and enjoyed a week full of activities and plenty of relaxation.

After a short stay at the Hospice in June, Fiona’s health started to deteriorate more rapidly and by mid-September, Fiona had to be admitted to hospital. After a short stay, she was transferred to the Ayrshire Hospice. From that point, the whole family moved in to the Hospice and lived there together for five weeks. The Wee House, a one-bedroomed, detached space, situation in the grounds of the Hospice meant that the family were close to Fiona at all times, “The Hospice helped us stick together, it kept us together as a family.”

During their stay, staff helped to arrange an early 13th birthday party for Abbie. They ordered takeaway, organised a birthday cake and even gave Abbie a new haircut at the on-site salon. Amy has always dreamt of being a nurse and as a surprise, she was presented with her very own, tailored uniform, ID badge, nurses’ watch and lanyard, making her an honorary member of the team.

In October 2016, after five weeks at the Hospice, Fiona sadly passed away aged just 42. But for the family, the Ayrshire Hospice remains a place they remember fondly. “I don’t ever want the girls to lose sight of what the Hospice did for us. I want them to remember it for being that place that kept us all together; that place where we had fun together.”

In 2017, Gareth, Abbie, Amy and Fiona’s sister, Janet, organised a team of friends and family to take part in the Ayrshire Hospice Colour Dash, a 5kn obstacle course. By the day of the event, ‘Team Fi’ had over 130 members, far in excess of their original target of 42. Gareth and his daughters are also regular guests at the Hospice’s Autumn Ball.

“There is far more to the Hospice than people would ever imagine. The support you get is remarkable. People will never understand the value of it, until the day you need it.”

The Ayrshire Hospice was there when Fiona, Gareth, Abbie and Amy needed it most. With your support, the Hospice will continue to be there for families across Ayrshire for many, many years to come.