Just two months after their wedding day, Mark and Amanda Love were given news that meant their lives would never be the same again.
Following a bout of ill-health while on holiday in Spain in 2007, Mark, who was in his mid-twenties, was treated for suspected meningitis but scans revealed he had a lesion on his brain that needed to be monitored closely.
A year on, and just months after they got married, doctors told the couple that the lesion was a cancerous tumour which later spread to his spine.
Two operations and trials of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed but in 2013, after the birth of their second child, Millie, they were told there were no more treatment options.
Former alarm centre supervisor Mark, now 34, is paralysed from the waist down but support from Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, in Headingley, has helped him stay at his Pudsey home to be there to see Millie, two, and son Joe, five, grow up.
Amanda, 34, said: “We did want things for Mark to be at home so we could have a family life and he could to be around the kids more. It’s not normal when you’re led in your living room in a hospital bed, but it’s become quite normal to us.”
After Mark lost the use of his legs last year, hospice staff immediately came to offer support at his home, setting up equipment like a care bed, hoist and wheelchair ramps to help him remain mobile.
Despite having early reservations about hospice support, Mark has spent five stints in the Headingley facility between spells at home with his doting wife and children.
“I had the preconceptions that everybody has that it is a one-way ticket – you would go in and not come out – but that’s not the case at all,” he said. “It’s like you’re part of a family, it’s a superb set up with the nurses, they are really caring and get to know you so well.”
Amanda regularly goes to Wheatfields for complimentary therapies, while the family is in constant contact with nurses, doctors and support workers from the facility to ensure they are on top of Mark’s care.
In Hospice Care Week, which runs until Sunday, Wheatfields has announced the approach is something it is expanding through its Morrisons Raise a Smile partnership, having seen its community team make 4,000 home visits last year.
Hospice director Helen Ankrett said new roles in complimentary and occupational therapy, funded by the Morrisons partnership, are helping to ensure more people receive “incredible care in their own homes”.
Wheatfields has also secured grant funding from Leeds Community Foundation so it can partner with voluntary organisations to support terminally ill patients and their carers.
HELP US SUPPORT THE HOSPICES
THE YEP’S Half and Half Appeal, in aid of Leeds’ two hospices, is the longest running regional newspaper charity campaign in the country.
Since it began in 1982, it has raised £2.9 for St Gemma’s Hospice and Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice and we are determined to reach £3m. You can donate online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/YEPHalfandHalfAppeal or send a cheque, payable to ‘The Yorkshire Evening Post Half & Half Appeal’, to the editor’s secretary, Yorkshire Evening Post, No1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, LS12 1BE.