No parent should outlive their child. The pain of loss and grief is too much to comprehend. Life taken as such an early age – this is the most heart-moving stories that I have written since starting my blog.
I want to share with you the importance of patient care; it not only extends to the patient, but to family members of the patient. Care good or bad can often be left with such an impact in someones life.
My cousin Chris her husband and their only child Andrew moved to Australia in 1989.
Andrew was diagnosed with Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma on his 21st Birthday after a pathological fracture. For 15 gruelling months he underwent 10 operations including major surgeries to initially replace his cancerous left fractured femur and knee-joint. He went through 16 round of chemotherapy, ending with the amputation of his left hip and leg and ultimately his young life at 22 years and 3 months.
Chris has kindly offer to write a guest blog highlighting some of the patient care that has had in some way had an impact on her – to share how vitally important patient care from the Reception staff through to the nursing staff.
Chris is in the process of writing a blog on this subject so dear to her heart and the link is:
and she has also written a book on her journey with Andrew through Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma “Beyond Courage”
The book insightful and greatly moving, “Beyond Courage by Chris Lancashire” does not only let readers experience the admirable courage of a man whose prime of life came to a sudden halt, but it also sheds more light into osteosarcoma and its intricacies.
Thank you Chris for sharing your story with us in the hope that everyone ultimately receives the care that they deserve.
Guest Blog : Beyond Courage
by Chris Lancashire
Thank you for inviting me to your Blog.
My background is in health, and I have worked both in the private and public sectors, in England and Australia over a period of 35 years.
On a personal note, I am a mother who went through the health system, when my son Andrew was diagnosed with Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, predominantly of the young teenagers and young adult. He passed away in November 2008 at the age of 22 years old.
I feel qualified to say, that the health systems are set up to help, assist and care for the vulnerable, fragile and sick patients that seeks care. Most of the time, the health system does well. Other times, these very systems that are placed to provide these care, failed to deliver these care, to the patients.
It is not the systems, that we constantly have to remind ourselves. The healthcare system is run by people. It is the very people in the healthcare system that actually provides that care.
Travelling with my son on his cancer journey is the toughest role firstly as a mother, and as a health professional. Protecting and caring for him in any way possible is the ultimate. I knew he was confident with the multidisciplinary health care team looking after him. More so, he knew I was able to be there for him, with my background as well as being his mother.
Somehow along this already difficult journey, there were situations and experiences that would make this journey even more difficult. It is at times like these that we always look at the human resources and education within the healthcare systems that can only be improved.
There were several nursing and reception issues, and experiences that also made me reflect on why these staffs was there. I would like to share here with one of this experience.
When Andrew broke his left femur, his contact with the first hospital, was an unforgettable and unpleasant experience. This was on a Saturday, the same day when he broke his left femur. Although Andrew was there for 36 hours, and pending him being transferred to the second hospital, where his orthopaedic surgeon was, it was a long 36 hours. He was in extreme pain, due to his fractured femur, which now had looked like a hugh balloon on his left thigh. Andrew was very drowsy due to the massive morphine injections given to him, very frequently according to the nurse. His left thigh (where the fracture was) was propped up with rolled up pillows underneath, to give the left thigh support. He was bed ridden, on his back and not able to move much, without the fractured ends of his femur grinding together.
Being extremely drowsy, due to the opiates, he was not taking much in the way of diet. His body temperature was up, so he had a high fever. They were no other forms of fluids ordered.
I visited over the Sunday with his dad, and we didn’t see any doctor to explain anything. We knew he was to be transferred when a bed was available at the 2nd hospital. However there was no treatment plan while Andrew was there, as such. When asked, the nurse who came in infrequently told us Andrew was having his frequent morphine injections and waiting transfer.
On Monday, I visited Andrew early around 0800 hrs, in case there was news of his transfer, so that I could organise and packed some of his things. I checked with the receptionist at the nurses’ station, to see whether I could visit him, giving her his full name. She checked on her computer and said, ‘Yes, you can visit. The nurse is with him at the moment, assisting him in the shower.’ My heart started racing, thinking that was not possible. He could not even move. He was almost semi-conscious most times due to the effect of pain relief. I rushed into his room. I saw him lying flat on his back, alone. He was drowsy, but awake and in pain. He had already pressed his call bell, nearly 20 minutes before. Andrew liked his wristwatch on him most times, so he knew it was a while since his call. His breakfast had arrived, and it was placed on his bed table, which was at the foot end of his bed. I saw my son, helpless and in pain. He couldn’t even reach his bed table to get any drink or his breakfast. I had to go and find the nurse looking after him to let her know of Andrew’s pain.
The receptionist made no effort to apologise. By this time, I had made this experience of my son and I known to the nurse in charge that morning.
Patients have a right to receive care, nursing, medical and all forms of holistic care whether in hospitals, care facilities or home. Even the most basic care such as human empathy, compassion and kindness. Too often, we blame these healthcare organisations and facilities for not meeting these fundamental, basic human needs and right for care. We sometimes forget that these very facilities are staffed by people who deliver care at the frontline. For me, I believe, it needs to come from the individual, and everyone that has been given the privileged to be in that position. It is a very humbling position to be, not a position of power or ignorance.
Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.
In honour of my beautiful son Andrew, I have written my book called Beyond Courage by Chris Lancashire. All proceeds from the sale of the books go towards medical research into finding an improvement treatment, and cure for Osteosarcoma. Please feel free to check out the book, and website of the same name.
In memory of Andrew Lancashire