Widow praises hospice staff who were extension of her family at darkest hour

This Is Wiltshire: Portia Chandler with her son Daniel,17 Portia Chandler with her son Daniel,17

FOR Portia Chandler and her family, the staff at Dorothy House Hospice were like an extension to her family when her husband, Mark, had cancer.

Mr Chandler’s deterioration was rapid and he died at Dorothy House Hospice on May 19 this year, two months after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He was 49.

While he was undergoing chemotherapy, specialist nurses and physiotherapists from Dorothy House visited him at home in Webbington Road, Chippenham, along with the nurses and an occupational therapist from the NHS’s Chippenham Neighbourhood Team.

The diagnosis of cancer came out of the blue as Mr Chandler, an IT consultant, was fit and healthy. Sadly chemotherapy could not cure him as the disease was too far advanced.

Mrs Chandler, a secretary at Chippenham Hospital, said: “The specialist nurses from Dorothy House came to see Mark about every ten days. If we needed anything they were at the end of the phone and we did call them when we needed advice.”

Mr Chandler spent some time as an inpatient at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, and when his condition worsened he was admitted to Dorothy House in Winsley.

He was there just 24 hours when he died.

Mrs Chandler said the hospice was a special place.

“It is like an extension of your family,” she said. “You are made to feel extremely welcome. They care so much for the inpatient and their family. There is a very calm atmosphere and it is very peaceful. The views from the patients’ rooms are lovely, on to open countryside.

“The hospice has a chapel which is a good place for reflection. The nurses have got lots of experience and they knew exactly what we were going through,” she said.

During her husband’s illness, Mrs Chandler attended a carers’ support meeting.

After he died she went to bereavement counselling, while her sons, Daniel, 17, and Aaron, 13, met the hospice’s family support worker.

The hospice also offers six free sessions of complementary therapy which Mrs Chandler has begun.

Mrs Chandler said: “The care and support that Dorothy House gives the families left behind doesn’t stop.

“They say the care is there for as long as we need it, even a few years down the line.”

Mrs Chandler has raised more than £1,000 for the hospice in memory of her husband, from donations at his funeral service and by taking part in the Midnight Walk in Bath in September.

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