The district nurse who helped our son die at home
RAF pilot Stephen Realf was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged just 19. His parents Peter and Elizabeth Realf thank district nurse Celine Kelly-Smith for providing end of life care.
RAF pilot Stephen Realf was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged just 19. His parents Peter and Elizabeth Realf thank district nurse Celine Kelly-Smith for providing end of life care
Our son Stephen died from a brain tumour at the age of just 26.
His career as an RAF pilot had been cruelly cut short with a diagnosis of an astrocytoma at 19. Stephen was unable to fly or drive again.
Since his diagnosis we had met many exceptional healthcare professionals, especially at Myton Day Hospice in Rugby, but it was district nurse Celine Kelly-Smith who enabled us to care for Stephen at home.
Celine cared for Stephen during the final two months of his life. Her kindness and caring not only towards our son but to the whole family was far and above what we were expecting from a district nurse.
Celine always allowed time on her visits to establish how we were coping, and as Stephen's condition worsened she ensured that equipment was made available to support us. We knew Celine was a busy nurse and we didn’t like to keep her too long during her visits, but she informed us that she always blocked out time after visiting Stephen, just in case we needed her.
In his final few weeks our son was unable to eat, drink or speak, but Celine was there with support and reassurances for us, and Stephen somehow always managed a smile for her. The rapport they had was good for Stephen and a comfort for us.
As things worsened, we always knew we would receive a prompt response from Celine whenever we needed to contact the service.
She is an outstanding example of what a district nurse should be, and how palliative care can allow a patient to fulfil their desire to die at home with dignity.
Since Stephen’s death in 2014 our family has successfully campaigned for greater investment in brain tumour research. We have also raised money for the hospice, but we have yet to find a way to demonstrate how eternally indebted we are to Celine and her district nurse colleagues.