Averill and Dennis live together in their home. 18 months ago, Averill was diagnosed with terminal bone marrow cancer; Dennis is now her primary carer. Averill has a complicated medication regime that at times can make her feel very unwell. Her and Dennis are supported by the district nurses who come and visit them both at home.
“I’m not feeling very well at the moment” Averill tells us. “I keep feeling very faint because of the drugs but I know that the nurse is coming in a couple of days. Now, please can you put this in capitals?” she asks “ALL OF THE NURSES HAVE BEEN WONDERFUL. They are just so so caring – it’s like they’ve know us for years. I don’t know how I can say it in any other way”
“I’ve never come across a group of people that tend us so well. It’s really comforting”.
Averill and Dennis explain that the nurses come in to take Averill’s blood so that it can be monitored and her treatment can be arranged accordingly. “They are always there to answer any questions I have and I really feel I can talk to them. When you’ve got what I’ve got, it’s scary, its just terribly scary. They tell me as much as they can – but they don’t know just how long it will be. Talking things through really helps though”
Dennis is Averill’s main carer “we’ve never been apart -he tends to everything I need” says Averill. Dennis adds “we do everything together – we always have! I bath her and do her hair – we’re getting by. When Averill finishes a round of treatment she can get very poorly and I have to monitor whether she needs to go into hospital – she copes with it very well really.”
“I used to have a wonderful person come and see me from the hospice as well. She came every week and was fantastic, she knew that I was frightened and talking to her made such a difference. She retired though and the other person who comes now is only part time so it is not as often. She is lovely but I would like it if she came more often – you can’t have everything though can you.”
Averill explains why she wants to tell us her story, “I want to help other people to understand how good the nurses are, how much care they have given to us at home and just how caring they are. You see, you turn the television on and hear such awful things about what is happening to people and you can’t believe it because it is so different here. I can’t tell you how good they have been to me – and to him – they are so kind. I always want to thank them, but I suppose they get a lot of thank you’s!”
Dennis says “It’s our 60th Wedding Anniversary this year we’ve said we’ll keep going until then! Averill might need to go into a hospice we think, but we don’t know yet. I’m not going to let her go yet – we’ll get as far as we can and then work that out when it comes” “He’s husband number one!” Says Averill “He is adorable and so so caring!”
That’s my daughter up there – ran the Devon Life magazine – she died at aged 32 from cancer. Her children were 8&9 so they were with us for most of the time. Both have gone through University and have good jobs now that they love. You relax when they have got a good job – like they are going to be OK.