“The support feels like a personalised service”

News and Blog

Last week we shared more about the work of our Welfare Advisor, Rosie. Here 65-year-old Trevor, who is receiving welfare advice and support from our hospice shares the difference this has made.

“I was given St Catherine’s number by someone at East Surrey Hospital. I’ve got a pre-existing health condition, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer on my left lung. Doctors are treating it with chemo although doctors are currently reviewing my treatments.

When someone says you’ve got cancer, it ain’t the best day of your life but I keep going. I’m still fighting it; doctors are still fighting it.

Quality of life, not just living, is very important to me

I wasn’t concerned when I heard the word hospice. I’ve always supported the hospice movement. I don’t see any reason not to – it’s a good thing.

I was given a brochure explaining what St Catherine’s does, which was helpful as it gave everything a category and broke down the care and support the hospice covers into manageable bits. When I first got my diagnosis, I chose to look at treatments and to concentrate on my health which meant I put other stuff down.

There wasn’t time to worry about everything – it was all too much otherwise. The way I see it is you can achieve things one at a time, just not all at once.

I was put in touch with Rosie, St Catherine’s Welfare Advisor, and she’s really helped

As I’ve been having chemo I’ve been isolating myself. I was trying to think of/sort everything and juggling so many balls, but it was too much, so I gave some things to St Catherine’s to help with. It’s calmed things down a bit for me.

Rosie’s been my confidence and voice of sanity sometimes

She’s very determined and if she can’t help, she’ll send me in the right direction. I’m always confident that she looks into things properly, and she’s aware of what the rules are.

Rosie has brought me comfort and her support feels like a personalised service. It feels like it’s just me Rosie is helping even though I know it’s not.

I’ve always worked so I didn’t know anything about benefits until a few years ago

I wasn’t getting the right rate of Universal Credit, so Rosie has helped with that and she’s also helped me apply for disability benefits to maximise my income. She got in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as well. I was being hassled every week by my DWP work coach about finding a job, attending assessment reviews and job discussions which I couldn’t do because of my illness. Thanks to Rosie’s help, that’s stopped now.

Then Rosie arranged for a local charity to transport me to and from my chemo sessions.

That’s made chemo a lot easier as someone picks me up from my home in Dorking and takes me back after. After chemo I don’t want to sit in the hospital or on transport for hours, I only want to get home and sleep. It’s amazing as it’s volunteers that keep services like that together.

The hospice is making a difference in lots of ways

I’m now getting what I’ve been entitled to all along, it’s given me someone to talk to and ask questions of. Even if someone doesn’t know the answer straight away, an answer always comes back.

I’ve spoken to lots of different people from the hospice on the end of the phone. They’re always bright and bubbly even though they’re often doing things that I‘d find difficult, talking to people about their personal details. There’s nobody I’ve spoken to at the hospice that I couldn’t talk to about cancer and death.

Nurses have visited me at home as well. One of the nurses brought round lots of nutrient drinks– my kitchen looked like a chemist!

I haven’t got family around me, so now I’m also sorting out my own cremation, so someone else doesn’t have to do it when I’m dead

I don’t want to ask my friends to do it. I’m also sorting out my household items as I’d like them to go back into use somehow. The way I see it is “it’s my possessions, I’ll tidy them.”

Rosie’s been helping me with sorting out my cremation because a lot of the paperwork is online, and I don’t have a computer. She’s also helping me apply for grants towards my funeral costs. Some of the phone calls I’ve had have been interesting. When I speak to someone and say, “I’d like to arrange a cremation” and they ask, “Whose?” and I say “Mine” it feels a bit like I’m a Mafia hitman!

As well as my cremation, I’m planning my pension for January so I’m planning for both eventualities. As long as my cremation is paid for it doesn’t matter when it is.

I have support from friends

Some of them help me with my shopping but it can feel difficult talking about my illness sometimes and I don’t like to keep talking about the same things with my cancer and treatment.

People say things like “keep your chin up” but when I’m arranging my own cremation it’s not always easy, but in a lot of ways I feel lucky. The chemo crew at East Surrey Hospital work as a brilliant team, it’s miraculous, and I can’t think of anything that St Catherine’s could do better either.

If someone is in my position, if you ask St Catherine’s, they’ll help you and if they can’t they’ll be honest with you. Everyone should support St Catherine’s because it’ll be there for you if you need it, and they need our support and money. Doing something is better than nothing!”

If you would like to make sure more people like Trevor can continue to have practical and financial support you can consider making a donation online or calling our Fundraising team on 01293 447361.