Louise Smith, 43, from Bexleyheath, lost her beloved older sister Teresa Ash to cancer in January 2022. She says the care not just Teresa, but the whole family, received from the hospice in the last months of her life was incredible. Since Teresa’s death her loved ones have raised almost £15,000 for the hospice.
Through the years my sister Teresa was always there for me. Kind and protective she soon sorted things out if I had any trouble at school, and when I became a mum was on hand to help.
After having her son Luke, who her life revolved around, she became a nanny working with the same family for
many years and then for a local preschool. Helping children to thrive was Teresa’s passion in life and she absolutely loved her job. She touched so many people’s lives.
Teresa was very fun-loving and warm. She was giving and unselfish – she’d spend a hundred pounds to buy you a present you’d always wanted but wanted nothing in return. She was godmother to both my girls, Chloe and Jessica, and they adored her.
Teresa was very close to our parents Mary and Richard, our older brother Jason and his three sons. Dad sadly passed away after a long illness, but Teresa had helped to care for him and was a huge support to Mum.
When Teresa was diagnosed with cancer herself it came as a huge shock. She wasn’t one to make a fuss and by the time she found out it was advanced. She had treatment to try to get it under control, but not much could be done. From the start she was so brave, taking it all in her stride, never once feeling sorry for herself.
The hospice became involved with Teresa’s care a couple of months before she died. The lovely community nursing team came out whenever she needed support, helping to get her pain relief under control and putting in place a bespoke care plan. We knew we could call them at any time and that was so helpful – you just felt supported.
Teresa’s aim had been to get to Christmas. We were able to go away on a belated holiday to celebrate her 50th birthday and she spent Christmas at home with all the family. I’m so grateful we had that time with her.
A few days later Teresa went into the hospice’s Inpatient Unit. The care she received was really personal, fitted around what was important to her. Everyone is so welcoming and the care they offer isn’t just about the patient. They understand that terminal illness is difficult for everyone. There was always someone to offer us a cuppa or ask how we were, and they also helped us to have difficult but important conversations.
Knowing Teresa was so well looked after gave those who loved her peace of mind. We could spend quality time with her when it mattered most. She slipped away peacefully in the IPU with Mum at her bedside.
The staff were so amazing and said that Teresa was one of the bravest patients they’ve known. Seeing how Teresa was cared for makes you realise that hospices are actually about people achieving the best quality of life they can, for as long as they can.
This year, I hope you will join me in remembering your loved ones and buying a rose to remember them too.