Hoghton man tells of son's cancer battle

WELCOME Tony Bonser has welcomed the review into palliative care

WELCOME Tony Bonser has welcomed the review into palliative care

First published in Hoghton Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A HOGHTON dad has welcomed a review highlighting ‘stunning inequities’ in end of life care.

The independent report called for funding changes to enable more people to die at home rather than at hospital.

Tony Bonser’s son Neil died from cancer at the age of 35.

Neil, who was studying for a masters in history, was admitted to hospital in March 2009 following a five-year struggle against the disease.

But he was given the chance to die in familiar surroundings thanks to the support of a MacMillan nurse.

Mr Bonser, 65, said: “He really had a fear of hospitals that amounted to a phobia. He really hated them.

“The day before he died we were asked to attend a conference with the senior clinician and ward sister, a MacMillan nurse, Neil of course, Dorothy, my wife, and myself.

“The MacMillan nurse simply said to Neil ‘what do you want?’ “He said ‘I just want to be at my home’.

“She said ‘I can’t promise you anything but leave it with me’.”

By 8.30am the following morning she had arranged for Neil to be taken to his flat by ambulance.

Mr Bonser, who described his son as ‘intensely proud and independent’, said: “I watched the fear and pain and the stress leave his face.

“He went into his flat, he sat cross-legged in the front room, he had a plate of chips and a whiskey and watched an episode of The Simpsons.

“Then he said ‘I’m feeling tired now, I think I’ll go to bed’.

“Very shortly after that at eight o’clock that evening he died, but he died peacefully because he was where he wanted to be.”

“That wouldn’t have happened without the MacMillan nurse because nobody had told us of the possibility of 24-hour nursing care.”

The Government-backed inquiry described huge postcode variations in the quality and amount of money spent on end-of-life services.

It estimated that out of 355,000 people who require palliative care in England each year, only 171,000 receive it.

Mr Bonser, who speaks at medical conferences and works with his wife to raise funds and awareness for MacMillan and the National Council for Palliative Care, said that patients and their families should be consulted about their wishes from the outset.

“It seems to me that with many cases it’s perfectly possible for people to die where they want to be, surrounded by the things and the people that really matter to them.

“It meant so much to Neil and it means so much to us as a family, because you’re relieved of the load of guilt of knowing that Neil might have died afraid, in a place that he didn’t want to be in.”

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