“I never thought a hospice would be like this”
This week is Hospice Care Week, where we recognise and celebrate hospice care nationwide. It’s an opportunity to show the world the value of support, of care and of what matters to us as individuals at the end of life when we need it most.
57-year-old Toni stayed on our wards earlier this year. She shares the difference this made.
“In 2015 when I had a hysterectomy doctors found some cancerous cells, then in January 2017 they saw some shadows on a scan indicating my cancer might have grown. I started chemotherapy but in April 2019 I suffered a life-threatening bleed. That meant I couldn’t have active chemo anymore which was a massive blow.
Now I’m struggling with how my cancer’s presenting in my body and making me feel.
When I was first referred to the hospice I came for physiotherapy
I’d been in hospital for a while and wasn’t quick on my feet anymore. I met some amazing people at the hospice’s exercise group, and although I was one of the youngest, other patients were also fighting to feel fit.
Like most people I thought a hospice was only for the end of life so thought ‘you’re about to pop off’ but now I understand that the hospice can be a part of your life.
When I’ve told people I’m here their reactions have been ‘Oh my goodness’
I’ve had to reassure them I’m not here because my life is ending but because the hospice is supporting me to live as well as I can, and to feel more in control of my illness.
The team are monitoring me to see how I can manage my cancer better at home and helping me think about different treatment options.
I’m due to have counselling too. I have an extended family and friendship group, and I want to be able to support them as I talk about the future.
I’m even working from my hospice bed
Continuing to work gives me a sense of purpose and shows that cancer doesn’t define me. It’s just one part of me in the same way that I’m a wife, a sister, a friend, and an auntie.
I’m astounded that St Catherine’s is so enabling for visitors
All my visitors have commented on how relaxed the hospice is and how helpful people are. One of them even asked if he could have a beer. He was joking but then we heard a drinks trolley coming along the corridor and a nurse appeared with a beer. He couldn’t believe it. We joked he’d only come to the hospice to have a pint!
I never thought a hospice would be like this, it’s been amazing
It’s been a haven for me. There’s a calmness here that’s helped me reflect about my life and what I’d like to do next, because even with cancer the future can hold so many wonderful things. Life is for living – that’s always been my mantra and I don’t think I’d have got this far without it.
I’d encourage anyone that can to contribute to St Catherine’s
Without you I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go when I needed this support. The hospice is an amazing service on our doorsteps, and you make it possible – thank you.”
Hear Toni speak more about the difference our care made to her:
We spoke to Toni in June 2022. Sadly, she passed away at our hospice in August 2022 but her husband has kindly agreed to allow us to continued sharing her experience to help others.