31 October 2022

Pamela’s Story: How a donation in memory of a loved one is helping improve experiences for patients living with cancer

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NHS Lothian Charity Supporter Pamela Graham on holiday in Interlaken

Pamela Graham was a wife, mother of two daughters, and a qualified Sonographer, who dedicated her career to the NHS for over 35 years. She was a trusted and supportive colleague to all who knew her.

Always up for a laugh, both at work and at home, Pamela was compassionate and made time to support others when needed. She would often take friends out for coffee (and the occasional scone) to be there for them as a listening ear, helping them through their difficult times.

It came as a great shock to Pamela and her loved ones when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In spite of the frightening situation she faced, she demonstrated the courage and strength she was known for and made the decision to start treatment. Although the side effects of treatment were tough, Pamela remained positive and strong throughout her cancer journey and, as she had always done, continued to be there for her friends and family as best she could.

During her treatment for cancer, Pamela received regular chemotherapy at the Oncology ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston. Her warm personality meant she built a strong rapport with the patients and staff, as she had worked alongside some of the team in other hospitals. Pamela had a wicked sense of humour, and often commented that she felt like a “pin cushion” during her sessions, as her veins were difficult to find, and it often took multiple attempts to insert a cannula. She would often balance a basin of warm water on her lap and put her arm into it and try to get the heat of the water to make her veins more visible. Her “difficult veins” became a running joke between Pamela and the staff on the ward.

Pamela lived with cancer for 12 years, and was courageous and brave throughout the treatment, but she sadly passed away from her illness in 2021. She left her family with strict instructions that they were to have the holiday of a lifetime and to enjoy revisiting old memories as well as making new ones. Pamela’s family also wanted the staff who had shown so much kindness and support to Pamela to have a way to remember her and decided to make a donation in memory of Pamela to the Oncology ward at St John’s Hospital.

Remembering Pamela’s “pin cushion” comments the staff suggested the purchase of two Airgloves to help other patients whose veins aren’t always easy to find. The Airglove is a unique thermal warming system which gently heats the patient’s arm as it forces warm air through a double walled polythene glove. This specialist equipment makes it easier for staff to access veins the first time rather than several attempts, and patients no longer need to balance basins of warm water on their laps making their treatment sessions less stressful. The machines are portable and can be taken to where patients are most comfortable. 

The family recently revisited the ward to see the Airglove in action, and were pleased to see the positive impact of their gift in memory of Pamela for patients now and in the future at St John’s.

Mum was proud of working for the NHS and liked the staff at Oncology”.

nurse talking to a patient in hospital

With your help we can continue to improve experiences for NHS Lothian patients now and in the future