Skip to content

A special birthday surprise.

Maria (53) has terminal cancer. She spent a month in our in-patient unit in August for respite care, where she valued the time and space to think about her future needs.

During her stay with us we were lucky to see her celebrate two family milestones; a visit from her newborn twin grandchildren plus her grandson, Oscar’s, 5th birthday.

Our team on the IPU wanted to create something memorable for Maria and her family so they organised a surprise birthday party for Oscar. Our Garden Room was decked with balloons and bunting for the occasion and Maria, her dad, step mum, son and daughter (mum to both Oscar and the twins) all gathered to enjoy Spiderman cake and present opening!

Maria said: “It was such a special day. I was expecting Oscar to come in and sit on my bed to open his presents. When I got taken to the Garden Room to see my family surrounded by birthday decorations it was a wonderful surprise.

“Oscar had a great time and loved all his presents including a fire truck outfit, which he enjoyed running around in. I got him a karaoke machine because he loves singing and dancing plus a tub of mayonnaise – he absolutely loves it and has a great sense of humour, so it was lovely to see him giggle when he opened it.”

For Maria, whose mum died when she was 12, there was something very special to have her family all together again, captured in a photo she will treasure. “It was a truly memorable day. The team at St Leonard’s went above and beyond to give Oscar a birthday to remember,” Maria added.

Maria was diagnosed in 2016 and was given months to live. At that time she wanted to focus on the quality of the time she had left, rather than the length. It was her son who encouraged her to have chemotherapy and, six years later, she has celebrated her son pass his exams and go off to university plus the birth of three beautiful grandchildren.

Spending time on the IPU allowed Maria to make the decision to go into a nursing home rather than return home. She said: “If I’d have gone home, my family would have only worried about me. I want them to be able to relax, for my dad to enjoy retirement and his touring caravan, and for my children to live their lives.

“It was lovely to have the space and time here to make that decision. Everyone has been so wonderful and supportive and I can’t thank them enough for the special family memories we made here.”