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“St Catherine’s gives me confidence someone is looking after me”

Violet is currently under the care of our community team. Here she shares how our hospice is helping support her.

“Three years ago, I had a routine mammogram check like ladies of a certain age do

I never thought anything was wrong, but I was recalled to Guildford for scans and biopsies. I went along with my husband and was told that same day I had two cancerous lumps in my breast – I could see them on my scan. Despite being told that news I couldn’t feel them so it’s so important for people to have their mammograms.

After that I had a mastectomy and an implant put in straight away. I coped with it all quite well but two years later, in the same breast I’d had my implant, I found another two lumps. They were operated on and removed. Shortly after I was told I had secondary cancer that had moved across inside my chest.

I found out my cancer was terminal when I saw palliative care ticked in a tick box on a medical form I was sent. When I read that I thought “how long have I got?”

My oncologist referred me to St Catherine’s

That referral was a shock. It added to my problems as when you hear the word hospice you think it’s confirmation you’re dying. You never want to be referred to St Catherine’s because you think it’s the final nail in a coffin.

I thought the hospice was just a comfortable, loving place where people were admitted to die

My brother died at St Catherine’s, but I had no idea the hospice offered other services or that people were sometimes discharged.

My illness meant I had some difficult times

Sometimes I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak and I was writhing on the floor. I thought “what’s doing this, is it the cancer?” but it was so hard to get hold of anyone – with coronavirus services were overwhelmed.

I was having to make my own decisions about things as I wasn’t having decisions made for me but I didn’t know who to turn to

I’m a strong person as I’ve had to cope with difficulties throughout my life so I can cope with the stress of my illness well, but even then, there was one day when I closed my eyes and said goodbye to the world as I didn‘t want to wake up again.

St Catherine’s stepped in to help

They supported me in ways I didn’t even know they could. They gave me mental and practical support, and offered financial support if I needed it. I really would not have coped without them

It was so helpful to hear a friendly voice on the phone

The hospice sent someone to visit me at home and as I didn’t have somebody close who I could talk to face-to-face I used the hospice.

It was so helpful to hear a friendly voice on the phone and a phone call with the hospice always managed to make me feel better. I feel I’ve coped better through those calls

I’m a very logical, practical person and the team understood that. They never said ‘I’m so sorry’ as that’s not what I wanted to hear but they helped me sort out my problems. They would contact doctors for me and suggest practical things to help me like other people I could speak to which reassured me.

Knowing I can call St Catherine’s provides such reassurance

They have been the only people who’ve been there for me and who I could get hold of at a time there’s been unprecedented pressure on the NHS

St Catherine’s gives me confidence someone is looking after me

I like to be in control of myself and the hospice have given me that, but I also have confidence knowing they’re looking after me. They’ve always been there, they’ve listened, had time for me and always helped. They’ve helped me deal with my pain and prescribed medications that are just there when I go to the chemist. Their support has lifted some of my stress and worry – I’d be lost without the hospice

My mantra in life is if you have a problem, worrying about it only makes it a thousand times worse, you have to deal with it. Dealing with it helps any problem even if you can’t solve it. St Catherine’s have dealt with my problems for me and helped me to deal with them and I’m forever grateful for that. I have a longer life than I expected now, which is mainly down to them.

I was vulnerable before cancer so I’d been isolating for two years before I started going through all of this

I wouldn’t have coped without the hospice’s support especially during coronavirus. The hospice’s help has been totally invaluable – I would not be sane or alive, I think, without them

If anyone else is in a similar situation and is referred to the hospice I want to reassure you they’re there to help you not to bury you! They do anything they can to help you.

The hospice wouldn’t be there without everybody’s fundraising

As a charity the hospice largely relies on charitable funds, it’s run by that. Without everybody’s help and support the hospice wouldn’t be able to help people like they’ve helped me.

They’ve not just made me comfortable, they’ve saved my life.”

To read how your support has allowed our hospice to help more people like Violet please visit our stories section or to make a donation please visit our donate page or call our friendly team on 01293 447361.

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