ST. Luke’s Hospice is appealing for donations this summer to help them continue providing specialist palliative and end of life care for local people and their families. This appeal is being supported by the family of Becca Ridley, who was cared for by the Hospice before she sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 21.
In December 2019 when she was just 20 years old, Becca Ridley was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. After months of initial tests, treatment and appointments, Becca went for another scan in June 2020. Becca was told that the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. It was no longer curable.
Kelsey Ridley, Becca’s sister, shares her family’s story – a story about Becca, her bucket list and the care and support she and her family received from St. Luke’s Hospice.
“Becca was crazy – I’d describe her as a bit of a nutter! Becca could be extremely cheeky at times, but had such an angelic way about her that she used to get away with it. I’d quite often be the one to get in trouble instead!
“After being in a lot of pain in November 2019, Becca was referred to hospital for tests and scans to find out what was wrong. A few weeks later on 12th December, Becca was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. In January 2020, Becca began a course of chemotherapy over three months.
“Becca would have her pen and pad with her when she attended appointments and she would make notes of what the doctors said, writing everything down. Becca wasn’t afraid to ask questions – she wanted to make sure she fully understood everything that she was being told about her illness. Often she told the medical professionals looking after her outright not to sugar-coat their words and to tell it like it is. She felt it was good to be upfront and honest.
“When the initial three months of treatment was complete, Becca had another scan. At an appointment with her oncologist in June 2020, she was told that her cancer had spread to her liver and her lungs and that it was no longer curable. When she received this news, Becca decided to once again put pen to paper and she wrote down a bucket list – a list of things she wanted to do or experience before she passed away.
“Becca knew exactly what she wanted. The list she made was really varied – from things like going to Disneyland, visiting New York and going on a cruise, to volunteering at a dog shelter.
“By December last year, the secondary cancer in Becca’s lungs had worsened and it was growing at a rapid pace. At that point, Becca decided to start working through her bucket list.
“As Becca was so ill at the time – as well as due to the restrictions relating to the pandemic – we knew it wasn’t going to be possible for her to achieve some of the items on her list, but she made sure she did what she could. Becca went ice skating, bought an electric scooter with accessories and she and I went out for a proper steakhouse meal together. One of the nurses at Queens Hospital was able to set up a meet and greet for Becca with a group of YouTubers she was really into called ‘Achievement Hunters’. She was very excited and had so many questions for them. It was great to see her so happy.
“Becca became really unwell in January 2021 around New Year’s Day. During one of Becca’s home visits, the district nurse suggested getting in touch with St. Luke’s Hospice for support. We had been in contact with the One Response team at the Hospice previously but we hadn’t considered Becca actually going to the Hospice. We knew where the Hospice building was but we didn’t know much about it. Honestly, I thought that the Hospice was somewhere that was only for older people at the end of their life – Becca was only 21. We were all unsure, but we had to do something. Although I had experience of being a carer previously, Becca’s health was deteriorating and it was becoming more and more challenging to meet her needs ourselves at home. We wanted to make sure she received the best possible care, so we made the decision to contact the Hospice.
“There were so many little things that the team at the Hospice did that made a real difference when Becca was with them. I took hot chocolate sticks in for Becca that she really enjoyed. All she had to do was say the word and one of the nurses would rush off and make her a hot chocolate immediately. If Becca wanted to go outside, she’d press her buzzer and within minutes someone would rush in to wheel her bed outside. Once she asked to go outside but her hair was wet, so one of the nurses dried her hair for her so she wouldn’t get cold. Another one of the nurses did her nails and hair for her one time to make her feel like a princess. Becca really loved it there.
“We were with Becca at the Hospice when she passed away. Even then, at an extremely upsetting time, the nurses who were with us helped to keep us all calm. Lisa, one of the nurses, still talked to Becca even after she passed, explaining what was happening. I was able to help wash Becca too, which was really important to me. When we went home, the team stayed in touch by phone, giving us updates and checking in on her so we knew Becca wasn’t on her own. I really take my hat off to the teams at the Hospice – they are true superheroes.
“As a tribute to Becca, the family are going to continue working through the experiences on her bucket list that she wasn’t able to complete. This will include me skydiving, even though I’m terrified of heights!
“Becca was taken from us far too soon. But the care she received from the Hospice was second to none. They made a really difficult time much easier for our family and took great care of us all.
“We’re so grateful that Becca’s last few weeks at the Hospice were made so comfortable and calm for her and we can’t thank the team at St. Luke’s Hospice enough for their help and support.”
Becca’s full story can be found on the St. Luke’s Hospice website www.stlukeshospice.com/beccas-story/
It’s thanks to the generosity of our local community that St. Luke’s Hospice are able to continue caring for local people, like Becca, Kelsey and their family.
If you can, please donate to St. Luke’s Hospice. You can do so online today at www.stlukeshospice.com/beccas-story/ or contact a member of the Fundraising team on 01268 524973 or email@example.com