In April 2002 my wonderful mother was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer which had moved to her liver and lungs. She was given a few weeks to live.

Reflexology

My mother struggled with her illness and the appalling effects that the chemotherapy had for her for nine months. During many of those months a wonderful girl from Royal Trinity Hospice came regularly to visit my mother at her home, to give her reflexology.  I had no idea what reflexology was then but was hugely impressed by the very beneficial effects it had for my mother.

After her reflexology sessions my mother was in less pain and took less morphine. This meant that she was more lucid and she had more energy. She was more positive.

The side effects of the chemotherapy were greatly reduced by the reflexology, she felt less sick, the burning redness in her face after the initial doses of chemotherapy reduced and disappeared, it somehow helped lessen the excruciating pain of a mouth full of ulcers, the swelling and pain in her feet went down and stayed down.

The increase of energy, reduction of pain and positive effect of the reflexology sessions lasted a good three or four days. This increase in wellbeing was hugely valuable to her and to us as a family.

Help at home

On a Friday afternoon at the end of January 2003, the hospital looking after my mother told her that there was nothing more they could do for her. In pain and some distress, we drove home.

I remember very clearly the sense of total panic and helplessness at being signed off by the hospital. Of course my extended family were there in all sorts of ways to support, but my mother’s pain relief, morphine dosage, general wellbeing and comfort was my responsibility at that moment and I felt wholly unqualified for the job ahead.                                                                

I telephoned Trinity when we arrived home. I told them that my mother was in pain and the morphine was not working for her and please could someone come and visit us. I was transferred to a Doctor call Mat who visited us the very next morning.

He came round to our house and told us how he and Trinity could support and help us at home. He changed my mother’s morphine which had been causing her back to itch badly. He helped me organise district nurses to visit twice a day to monitor and deliver morphine doses. And they in turn arranged for the delivery of an air bed for the following day.

I have never been more grateful to anyone in my entire life. I knew then that I was not alone in looking after my mother and that I could ring someone any time if I was worried or needed advice.                                                         

My mother died four days later on Candlemass, the church celebration of light.

Giving back in a new role

Afterwards, inspired by that wonderful reflexologist from Trinity who came to visit my mother, I decided to train to become one myself. I passed my reflexology exams six years ago and have been helping those at the end of life and in chronic pain with reflexology since then.

I feel it is a privilege to be able to volunteer at Trinity to give a little back and to say a small thank you to for their kindness and support which I can never fully thank them for. I am forever grateful.