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Hospice helps seriously ill Barking father-of-five receive care at home

PUBLISHED: 17:19 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:05 13 March 2018

Katy Chelchowska with Alex McCracken and dog Sky. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Katy Chelchowska with Alex McCracken and dog Sky. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Saint Francis Hospice

Nine days before Christmas, doctors told a father-of-five from Barking he had liver cancer. They gave him just days to live.

Alex McCracken had been living with cirrhosis of the liver for six years.

After the diagnosis, he wanted nothing more than to be back with his wife Chris and their family, including their devoted pet dog Sky.

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

“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.”

Fortunately, the 54-year-old had his wish granted after help from Katy Chelchowska and the community and crisis support service from Saint Francis Hospice, along with the occupational and physiotherapy teams.

Within three days of being referred to the hospice in Romford, which cares for those with life limiting illnesses, Alex was reclining in a specialist bed set up in his living room.

The hospice’s occupational therapy team delivered a bath seat and a toilet frame he could continue to be independent.

Through house visits and chats on the phone, Katy has been checking up with Alex regularly to manage his symptoms so he is as comfortable and free of pain as possible.

“I immediately felt more relaxed,” he said, adding that half the pain was “lifted” just by being at home.

“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.”

He said his wife “is so strong it is untrue”.

Alex nows takes physiotherapy to help his mobility and has access to a crisis support phone line run by Katy and her team, which is open all hours.

“It takes so much worry off your shoulders, it’s a real lifeline,” said wife Chris, 54.

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