“The hospice’s help is life changing”
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic we spoke to Anthony who was under the care of our hospice after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was receiving support at home and spent some time on our wards in July 2020. Here he and his wife Arlene, share how, thanks to our community’s support, our hospice has made a life changing difference.
“I had awful vomiting, about 100 times a day and hiccups. Every time something touched my tongue, I was ill. It was hell on earth. I lost lots of water and my kidneys shut down. Things got so bad I collapsed outside the hospital once”
This was the tough reality when Anthony began chemotherapy.
“The original idea was to shrink then cut my tumour out” explains Anthony, “but the doctors couldn’t do that because the tumour was sticky like jam.”
As Anthony continually struggled with vomiting, hiccups and pain he was in and out of hospital
“On the wards, I was surrounded by strange faces. It was scary, and I couldn’t even have a visitor because of COVID. At no point was I told my cancer was terminal until I went for an MRI and was told out of the blue”
For Anthony’s wife, Arlene, not being able to visit him in hospital affected her wellbeing too
“I wasn’t sleeping or eating, and I was crying every day. I was going home to an empty house each evening and I couldn’t see my family or have a hug from anyone because of COVID. It was a really tough time.”
After another hospital stay doctors recommended that Anthony be put in touch with St Catherine’s and our hospice nurses started visiting him at home
“They took control of my illness,” explains Anthony.
Even with St Catherine’s nurses visiting the couple at home, Anthony was still having problems with sickness and hiccups so the team suggested he spend some time in the hospice
“I thought going to a hospice was for someone who was effectively dying, so when you hear the word, you immediately think the worse, that you’re on your way out, but I concentrated on what St Catherine’s could do to help me” says Anthony.
Arlene had a similar response
“I thought ‘Oh my god” And when I told my family they questioned me too, asking “Why he’s going into a hospice? Is there something you’re not telling us?”
“But now we know that when a hospice gets involved in your care, it can keep you stable and help your quality of life” explains Anthony.
Anthony didn’t know what to expect from the hospice but describes everything as “top drawer”
“It wasn’t like I was a patient. The care was heart touching and more loving. Everything was top drawer, from how the team spoke and treated me through to the different drugs they tried”
Being able to visit Anthony at the hospice despite the COVID pandemic made a huge difference to Arlene
“Seeing Anthony brightened my spirits. I felt I had some control, and I always felt safe that I was being looked after, so was Anthony and the other patients, with COVID temperature checks and wearing PPE – that was really reassuring.
Sometimes we listened to music on our headphones or watched TV together. Other times I’d go for a walk in the hospice gardens”
One of the biggest things for the couple was how the hospice helped Anthony get the physical symptoms of his illness under control
“In two weeks, St Catherine’s got me into a position that other places weren’t able to over many months,” explains Anthony. “My symptoms are gone, and I’ve had no more signs of sickness, hiccups or vomiting. It’s been life changing.”
The couple describe the hospice team as “miracle workers” and are “eternally grateful for the help”
“They fully supported Anthony with all of his needs,” says Arlene, “They networked with other professionals, and took the time to explain things so we have more understanding about Anthony’s medication and the side effects.
“The hospice made us feel unique. People genuinely had time for us and made it feel like we were at home. Anthony didn’t ever feel like just a cancer patient”
“That’s because you’re not just a stat at St Catherine’s,” says Anthony
“They’re light years ahead in how they individually treat you. The nurse’s bantered with me and I even got offered a beer with my dinner. Everything made me feel well cared for”
Even though Anthony is back home now the couple feel reassured that if they’re ever worried they can call the hospice
“The team have guided me through Anthony’s medication,” says Arlene, “but I know I can ask questions and ring anytime 24/7.”
“The nurses call regularly and check in on me which is good” adds Anthony, “I don’t think I ever go two weeks without someone from St Catherine’s ringing.”
“Knowing what I know now I’d move the world for St Catherine’s,” says Arlene.
“I can’t thank the hospice enough for what they’ve done for Anthony and me.”
Watch more from Anthony and Arlene in our video call with them below:
If you would like to read more people’s experiences of hospice care please visit our stories section .
Sadly, Anthony passed away at home in July 2021. To help us support more people like Anthony you can call 01293 447361 or make a donation online today.