In 2018, Becky decided to take part in our Night Strider event in memory of her husband Lee. Becky started volunteering at Clifford House a year ago, to give something back to St Luke’s as a thank you to the hospice for caring for Lee. When Becky signed up for Night Strider, her colleagues at Clifford House offered their support by walking alongside her. The team was made up of 15 people (and two dogs!) and raised more than £2600 in total. Becky says:
“Lee was only 50 when he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He was my soulmate and my partner. We’d been together for nearly 27 years and have a daughter, Kathleen. Everything was always about the three of us, so losing Lee has left a huge hole in our lives.”
“When the St Luke’s community nurse first came to see us it felt scary, it made what was happening to our family real. But straight away she made a difference by helping him with his pain. Lee was adamant he wanted to die at home, but as he got to know the palliative nurse and talked things over with her, he made the decision to go into St Luke’s. Though it was clearly what he wanted, I was apprehensive. But within hours of arriving at St Luke’s I knew it was the right decision. As soon as Lee was admitted I felt the pressure lift off me. It gave me the gift of being his wife, of being Becky, and not his carer for those last few days. But more importantly, I felt confident that he would be pain-free.”
“The staff were wonderful. At St Luke’s there was love all around us. That’s what sets it apart. From the cleaners to the doctors they were so respectful of all of us. We were able to create an atmosphere in Lee’s room that felt like home. The three of us still managed to have happy moments in those last few days. We were also given the space and privacy that allowed Lee to die quietly in my arms which was exactly what he wanted.
“I am indebted to St Luke’s because they don’t stop caring for you when your loved one dies. The real support for me came in the year afterwards. The counselling I had was an invaluable gift. It gave me a safe place to let my barriers down.”
Becky volunteers one morning every week at Clifford House, using the skills she gained as a PA to support the team with admin duties. She says:
“I made a promise to myself to volunteer at St Luke’s just before Lee died. I felt I had to give something back. Although I am giving my time, I also get a lot out of it. Being a volunteer is helping me to find some of the confidence that’s disappeared over the last three years. As well as losing Lee, I feel like I’ve lost myself. Sometimes at Clifford House I feel like the old Becky and it’s a real comfort to know bits of the old me are still there.”
“Last year I mentioned to my colleagues that I wanted to do Night Strider for Lee. It was their idea to get a Clifford House team together to walk with me. On the night I was very emotional, but we talked all the way around and even found time to stop off at the pub to raise a glass to Lee.
“I’d say to anyone thinking of doing Night Strider this year, find yourself a friend or a dog to walk with and just do it! There’s such a great buzz on the night and you’ll find plenty of people to chat to along the way.
“What stands out for me about Night Strider is the feeling of comradeship. Seeing all those people walking together really brings home how many people have lost someone and have benefited from the care and support we’ve had from St Luke’s. So many people across Sheffield would be lost without it.”
You can sign up for this year's Night Strider now! Take in some of the city’s finest views by moonlight, knowing that every step you take helps us continue supporting Sheffield people affected by terminal illness. Sign up today.