“To some, a hospice spells only one thing, but it’s so important that people forget that preconception and realise what a positive place this actually is.”
Bill has been visiting our Day Hospice since August 2017. Here, he shares his experience of St Catherine’s, and why he’d encourage people to rethink their perception hospice care.
“Why am I here? That was the question I asked myself when I first visited St Catherine’s Hospice. I had been referred by my Oncologist, but had no idea what to expect, and I was scared. I thought to myself: what happened in my life that lead me to being referred for hospice care? Why have I been picked out of a line up to come here? Why me?
I had heard of St Catherine’s before becoming a patient; I live in Crawley so am local, and therefore read about the hospice in local papers and saw various events taking place out in the community. Despite that, I had a presumption that you go to a hospice when you’re at the end of the line. Being told that it might be a good idea for me to come here for some respite felt completely overwhelming.
To my surprise, St Catherine’s was nothing like I expected. My time here has been hugely positive; my wife has been able to enjoy some time off, and I’ve met some new people that have completely opened my eyes to what hospice care really is all about. When I arrived for my first day in the Day Hospice, I knew no one. I had no background as to who I would be meeting, who would be caring for me, what to expect. But over the last 12 weeks, I’ve come to know the team here really well, and made some genuine friends too.
I’ve enjoyed meeting people in a similar situation to myself.
We are, of course, completely different and how we’re dealing with our illness is never the same as the person next to you, but we’re all in it together, and there’s something quite special about that. Sometimes, being around others that are actually more unwell than I am puts things into perspective for me. Spending time at St Catherine’s has shown me things about myself that I didn’t know already.
You wouldn’t think coming to Day Hospice would be fun, but it is! When you’re here, and you’re getting to know the people, the jokes soon come. It’s a bit of normality for me; time to not think about what else is going on. You find yourself chatting to people that you wouldn’t normally speak to in normal everyday life, and discover you have lots in common. Age isn’t a barrier: I’ve met patients much younger than myself, who I wouldn’t normally approach or strike up a conversation with outside of the hospice, but here we are, forming a friendship.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it shattered my family.
It felt as though I were a bike that had lost one of its wheels and I couldn’t fix it. Day Hospice has helped put that that wheel back on. To some, a hospice spells only one thing, but it’s so important that people forget that preconception and realise what a positive place this actually is.
I’ve seen myself improve hugely since coming here. Physically, I’m so much better than when I was first referred, with much less exhaustion, and I put that down to the complementary therapies I’ve received, particularly Reiki. It’s hard to explain what Reiki is like, but it just makes me feel so much better.
My Day Hospice programme at St Catherine’s is ending soon, but I know that if I ever need to come back and get some more support, I can do. That’s hugely reassuring. I don’t know where I’d be without the hospice.”