“I feel Jo and the St Catherine’s staff all genuinely care”
We recently introduced you to Senior Specialist Therapist, Jo, who explained how our therapy team help those that we care for. Sarah Webster has benefited from Jo’s support. Here, Sarah tells us more.
Sarah was diagnosed with asthma in 2007 but her breathing started to deteriorate rapidly in 2017. It got so bad she struggled to breathe when she was doing anything. The Royal Brompton Hospital confirmed her palliative diagnosis and she was referred to St Catherine’s.
“The moment the consultant at The Brompton saw me she knew it wasn’t asthma. Instead, I was diagnosed with Chronic Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, a form of lung disease that I now know was caused by a severe reaction to mould and damp in the flat where I was living.
“I was just 40 years old, and it was life changing news.
“After not responding well to treatment, the hospital told me that I might only have a year left of my life. It was at that point I was referred to St Catherine’s. A lovely nurse came out to see me and reassured me that palliative care did not mean end of life care.
“After that first visit, I had lots of contact with the hospice – they called me once a month and they helped to get my morphine levels correct so that I could keep moving. I decided if I didn’t have long left, I just had to make the best of it. I’ve been determined to help others through my illness and raise awareness of the dangers of damp.
“Not everyone living with damp will end up with my condition, but you don’t know how susceptible you are until it’s too late. If I can help just one person, then I’ll be pleased.
“Thankfully I was put on chemotherapy, and it turned my life around. My lung capacity went from 24% to 40%.
“It’s now five years since I was diagnosed and the hospice has been great. Before lockdown, I had acupuncture, and I’ve seen the doctors a couple of times to help my pain management when it gets really bad.
“I now see Jo on the Therapy Team, who has helped me to build up my strength and control the pain through stretches and exercise.
“Jo is one of the most amazing things in my life. She motivates me to keep going and think about myself more. When I came a couple of weeks ago, I had totally lost sight of myself. I had been so tied up looking after my mum, I hadn’t looked after myself and I hadn’t spent time on self-care. I didn’t realise how lost I was.
“Being sick is a full-time job. It is so hard – fitting in my appointments, managing my tiredness, my pain and my oxygen.
“Jo puts me back on track and makes me feel more motivated to do my exercises. Keeping active is so important and I try to get between 6,000-11,000 steps every day so I can keep moving and walk my beloved dogs, Albert and Arthur.
“I feel Jo and the St Catherine’s staff all genuinely care and that can be rare these days. I tell Jo how amazing she is every time I see her!”