CANCER patient Gary Falconer is working his way through his “bucket-list” with the help of carers and friends at a North-East hospice.
And, despite his terminal illness preventing him achieving one of his dreams – to visit New York – he has now had a taste of The Big Apple thanks to the kindness of a fellow patient at Butterwick Hospice.
When insurance problems meant Gary, 56, couldn’t fly to America, Margaret Hill wrote letters to the Mayor of New York, asking if Gary could be sent a souvenir.
Margaret didn’t give up when she didn’t receive a reply so she kept writing letters and her persistence has finally paid off with Gary being sent a New York Yankees baseball cap and a New York t-shirt from an anonymous well-wisher across the Atlantic.
Gary, who was told his illness was terminal four years ago, said: “I was just delighted and it was very kind of Margaret to go to all that trouble. Coming to Butterwick and meeting people like her has been amazing.
“There are a lot of things I just want to accomplish in life, although now it’s quite a bit more difficult. But everyone here at Butterwick has really been helping me to do some things I’ve always wanted to.”
Margaret said: “It was disappointing not to get a reply but it paid off in the end because it made Gary smile.”
He has plenty left on his bucket-list, including riding a Segway, going on a Viking longship, and trying indoor skydiving.
Gary, of Bishop Auckland, added: “I keep adding things to the list as I think of them. It gives me something to look forward to, and that helps keep me alive.
“Coming to the Butterwick every week has been wonderful. After I got the diagnosis, I noticed simple things at home suddenly started becoming a problem. It became much harder to get up the stairs, or just to stand up from a chair.
“The hospice has helped me tremendously, showing me how to move and stand better, and helped me get rails and things fitted at home to help. When we all come in, we get fed and looked after, we get a massage and aromatherapy, and it’s just lovely.
“It’s an amazing place, we have a great laugh every week, and I always look forward to coming.”
Butterwick Hospice offers pioneering holistic care to terminally ill people and their loved-ones across Bishop Auckland, County Durham and Stockton. For more information about how to access support, call 01388 603 003.