Supporting Cynthia Spencer Hospice: Jason's Story

The background.

My late wife Janice was diagnosed with a rather aggressive Triple Negative Breast Cancer in April 2016 and after chemotherapy, radiotherapy, so many surgeries the cancer spread taking hold of her spine, lungs, heart and oesophagus, she passed away in early December 2016 at Cynthia Spencer.

Neither of us had experience of, or were aware of what a hospice offers, it always seemed a place spoken in hushed tones.  

The staff and people at Cynthia Spencer Hospice and the care and support provided to Janice was unlike anything we could imagine.  Janice was treated as human not a disease or hospital number with dignity and respect.  The hospice picked up the holes within our overstretched NHS.  The facilities were second to none, providing round the clock care to all patients.  Everything from a modern setting, private rooms to beautiful grounds that patients could experience, the support in obtaining equipment like hospital beds, mobility aids that were delivered the same afternoon after assessing Janice was a relief, everything from the pain specialist nurses, occupational therapists, doctors and consultants supported Janice as a person.  This makes a huge difference.

At the time Janice was transferred from the spinal ward in Leicester to the hospice for her final days on end of life care, is where I saw how hard the staff work under extreme conditions.  Putting on a brave face and positive attitude despite knowing what was happening to people in their ward, managed to supporting care for all palliative patients.  The equivalent of appearing graceful like a swan but paddling frantically underneath providing support for so many patients and their families.

Those last few days were extremely hard watching the one person you love slip into unconsciousness and finally pass away.  Nothing prepares you for this and it’s certainly not as Hollywood would suggest.

Those were hard and very dark days.

Why Steffans?

When I lost Janice, Steff, Wes and the family were very supportive and cared.  This is where I truly realised the relationship they build is around people and not just pure sales.

I was going through some very dark times and I remember Steff messaging me, trying to coax me out of the house.  I know that Steff was grieving the loss of his Mum at around the same time so know how hard it is to try to be sociable and the strength he had contacting me.  I have a huge amount of respect for both Steff and Wes.

I remember being at the shop once and Steff followed me outside and across the road to check I was ok, and invited me to one his functions.  I know this was his way of trying to help me break the cycle of staying at home as my anxiety and depression took hold.  

I’ll always remember the fact that Wes (Who is always busy) took the time to talk to me for a couple of hours (on more than one occasion), in a bid to try and make me see the light.  Something he didn’t have to do, nor take that time out of his hectic schedule.  Janice used to say the greatest gift anyone can give “Is their time”.

Wes has tried to convince me to try meditation and other activities that have helped him, but I’m both too shy and not brave enough to do that.  Again huge respect for Wes and the Family, these are all things they chose to do, rather than treat people like a transaction (If that makes sense), and I guess that’s what makes Steffans such a very different experience.

I’d been thinking of what I could do to help the hospice and so far raised under £10K, but due to ongoing health issues, I was looking for something to make an impact, a difference.

I remembered Steffans teaming up with Frank Bruno for his mental health charity which got me thinking.

I approached Wes (I was nervous AF) to ask if Steffans would consider a project to help the Cynthia Spencer Hospice, and without skipping a beat he surprisingly agreed straight away expressing what a great idea it was and asked what I needed.  I wasn’t expecting an answer so quickly and hadn’t thought that far ahead, but instinctively knew it was the right family to take on this project.  I mean, given the Suter background they could make a success wherever they are in the country or world, but…. Steffans have always championed Northampton, using their influence and connections to try and right many of the issues the town centre is facing.  A retailer who cares about the town and with a long a history of Northampton is a very rare find.

The project

Wes created in record time an example pendant, something I could approach Cynthia Spencer with (There were delays on my side due to MH issues and being seriously ill).  A jewellery project will be a first for the Hospice.  I was genuinely surprised no-one had done something similar before.

I spoke to my long-time friends Nathan Smith and Claire Pound (Both international artists with influential clients worldwide) with a brief of something unique to incorporate Cynthia Spencers logo that could be worn easily.  

Researching typical charity jewellery I was shocked many tended to be boring but functional designs.  The Frank Bruno project demonstrated that does not have to be true, showcasing the Steffans Team innovation and creativity when it comes to projects like this.

I’d gotten into 3D Printing at the time, though the filament printers would be too clunky for this project, I contacted a friend at Anycubic to see if they would sponsor a Resin Printer for the project, they agreed and supplied all the equipment and resin required.

A number of ideas were sculpted in zBrush including rings, broaches and pendants, all which were printed in resin as it was easier to visualise something you could hold, than just a computer render. Nathan and Claire tried many ideas and designs.

Wes was extremely supportive and explained what would work and what wouldn’t in a retail settings and we settled on two final different designs of pendants that could be used as earrings, charms on bracelet and now Julles' suggested a keyring, which I hadn’t considered.

Cynthia Spencer were happy with the final designs and the design you have today tested better with a limited audience (Resin Prints).

Everyone involved has given their time to make this happen, and hope that the jewellery will benefit many more people who find they need the care and compassion of Cynthia Spencer Hospice.  Every pound raised makes a huge difference to the people who need the service and those that run the service.

I guess in short, Steffans Family, the jewel in Northampton Crown, with their experience, compassion and care for the town and people are the perfect and only choice for a project like this, in Janice’s memory we hope the pendant raises funds to provide future support for an amazing local charity that really make a difference to those who sadly need to use their services.