Melissa takes on marathon swim in Mum’s memory

Melissa Burton and her friend Jo are taking on a marathon 10K swim in November, to raise funds for the new hospice. They will be heading to the pool of champions – the London Aquatics Centre, where the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place. Training is currently in full swing, as they prepare for this difficult challenge.

Melissa’s Mum, Linda Riseborough, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 and underwent a single mastectomy but sadly was never given the ‘all clear’. For the next 30 years of her life, Linda lived with cancer, undergoing various treatments and therapies at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Linda received care at Priscilla Bacon Lodge for the last few days of her life and sadly died in 2016. Melissa tells us more about her story and how hospice care made a difference to Linda and her family at such a difficult time.

“There were periods of good health and breaks in treatments, but as the years went on the breaks became shorter and then in June 2016, we were told that the treatments were no longer keeping Mum’s cancer under control. We were told that now was the time to be comfortable and not to take on any more treatments that wouldn’t have the desired results, they would only make Mum feel more poorly.

My Mum never moaned or complained about feeling unwell or the treatments, side effects or appointments. She would never discuss how long she had and the word ‘terminal’ was not in her vocabulary. Everything was Mum’s decision and towards the end when she was really struggling at home, I asked her to consider going to Priscilla Bacon Lodge, but she still wouldn’t give in!

Then, she needed a blood transfusion and staff at the NNUH suggested she go to Priscilla Bacon Lodge for the day, instead of the hospital. I think this visit made her realise what a peaceful, friendly place the hospice is and it made it less scary.

Just over a week later, she asked me to make the call to get her in. Due to lack of space, we had to wait a few days and then the call came. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when I took her in, with her suitcase and family photos. We sat outside in the gardens waiting to be checked in and shown to Mum’s bed area. We both knew what this day meant, but didn’t talk about it.

The staff were fantastic and nothing was too much trouble. I was able to quietly explain Mum’s wish not to discuss how long she had, or what was going to happen. The staff understood this; their care and compassion whilst Mum was there was incredible. She wasn’t just another patient to them, she was Linda.

Mum had lots of visitors that week, she was very pleased with the drinks trolley and enjoyed a white wine or a Guinness. One evening I went in to visit her on our way to a NCFC home game and Mum was insistent that we didn’t miss the game. She was a huge NCFC fan. We sat together and had an egg sandwich, (Mum’s favourite). She fought to the end and Mum had gone from being scared of everything a hospice represented to being calm, settled, safe and cared for in her final days – far better than we could have provided for her at home.”

You can support Melissa and Jo in their epic swimming challenge by sponsoring them here.