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It’s often said there’s no place like home and for many people who are seriously ill, it is where they are most comfortable and wish to remain for as long as possible. 

Alex McCracken, 54, from Barking, has been living with cirrhosis of the liver for the past six years and on December 16th he was given the devastating news that he had liver cancer and had just days to live.     

The father-of-five immediately wanted to return home to be with his wife Chris and their family, including their devoted pet dog Sky.     

Fortunately, Alex was able to do so thanks to the care and support Katy Chelchowska and the Community and Crisis Support Service, along with the Occupational and Physiotherapy teams, were able to provide.  

     Katy, Alex and Sky 2

Katy visited Alex in his home shortly afterwards and within days she arranged for a specialist bed to be set up in his living room and the hospice’s Occupational Therapy team delivered a bath seat and toilet frame so Alex could continue to be independent.     

                                                                                        Katy with Alex and Sky

Since then Katy has been keeping in regular contact with Alex via telephone and home visits to manage his symptoms so he is as comfortable and pain free as possible.    

“It was a massive shock when the doctor came to see me while I was in hospital and told me they’d found cancer,” said Alex.     

“I was given between two days to two weeks to live and as soon as I knew what was happening I wanted to be in my own home.    

“I couldn’t believe that within three days of being referred to the hospice, Katy had everything in place.    

“I lifted 50% just being in my own home.     

“I immediately felt more relaxed.      

“I do not like to ask people for help with everything and now I’m able to be quite independent.    

“It has only been a short time but they have made me so comfortable and I have been amazed at how much everyone at the hospice has put themselves out for me.    

“My wife is so strong it is untrue, but there is also support for her too so I know she will be ok.”    

Alex has benefited from physiotherapy to help with his mobility.     

And having access to the 24-hour crisis support telephone line, which is run by Katy and her team, has also been a “lifeline” to Alex and his wife Chris.    

“Alex wants to be at home and it is nice that he is able to do that,” said Chris.    

“If there is any problem and he is unsure about anything I can just pick up the phone and speak to Katy or a clinical nurse specialist.    

“It takes so much worry off your shoulders, it’s a real lifeline.”