I was out watching the London Marathon in the unseasonal sunshine on 22 April and, as always, was moved both by the dedication of the runners and the support of the crowds. In a city which I call home, but which people who do not know it as I do call unfriendly and cold; I saw strangers out in their thousands cheering on runners of all backgrounds, ages and abilities, whoever they were raising money for, whatever they were dressed in, and especially cheering those who appeared to struggle the most.
When I was thinking again on my way to work the next morning about the efforts of all of the runners, especially the 12 who ran to raise awareness and much-needed funds for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, I thought about the ‘support crew’ that each of them will have had, it might be they belong to a running club with peers giving them tips along the way, or their partner, children, parents or friends were standing by the side handing out much-needed bananas and gels; they may have had online support or tips – reading Runners Weekly and they will have been getting encouraging emails from Jane, our Events and Challenges Coordinator. All of these people in the background have a role to play and are helping each runner to achieve their goal – to get over that finish line.
This made me think about the people that the Hospice supports, at home, in hospital and here in the main Hospice building and how much easier it is when everyone knows what the challenge ahead is, and when we have the right information to help each patient achieve the goals they have set. There is much less information available out there on how to die well, and even less about the period before, when we might be feeling less well and having to navigate difficult decisions and the complexity of the health and social care system. That is when the Hospice comes into its own, to be the local ‘support crew’, encouraging you to have the best life (time) you can and to help your family and friends to keep you well along the way.
So wherever you are in your journey, talk to those who are close to you about your wishes and preferences and don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Hospice if you need help, and finally a big thank you to anyone who ran, or supported the London Marathon this weekend.