St Peter’s Hospice has launched its Spring Appeal, aimed at raising funds for the Day Hospice. Caroline Taylor, our Day Hospice Team Leader, explains why this service is so important for the people of Bristol
A few weeks ago, a lovely patient called Tina arrived at the Day Hospice. I want to share Tina’s story with you, because it shows the vital importance of the Day Hospice in helping people to live with terminal illness. Day Hospices like ours are under pressure. Every day people like Tina are referred to us for help and we can only care for them with the support of people like you.
I was 49 when I first went to the GP about irregular bowel movements I’d been having. He said it was probably nothing, but as a belt and braces check, he sent me for a scope and then a scan.
Two weeks later, I was told I had advanced bowel cancer – which had already spread. Surgery wasn’t an option. There was no cure. I was given between 16 months and two years to live. I went from being a totally independent, active, healthy person, with a brilliant job as an ENT nurse practitioner, going on four holidays a year, living a life I loved to… terminally ill. It’s like a sign over your head.
Now, 18 months after diagnosis, I think: yes, I’ve got a terminal disease, but it hasn’t got me.
I wasn’t keen on the idea of Day Hospice to start with. I thought it would be elderly people sitting round a telly; miserable, depressing and morose. But it’s not like that at all. When you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, your life goes a bit out of control. Coming here for the first time, I felt like someone wrapped a duvet around me. I felt comfortable, and relaxed. I felt I no longer had to fight to be in control because someone else was.
As well as all the activities, I’ve met people in the same boat. Friends I’ve known for 30 years don’t contact me anymore because they don’t know what to say. And I feel guilty at home, because I know I’m going to put my loved ones through hell and there’s nothing I can do about it. But here, I can talk freely. I don’t have to worry about upsetting people.
Believe it or not, we have a laugh here. And there’s not a lot of laughing, generally, when you have a terminal illness. I know, given my prognosis, that I am heading down the final stages. I get very, very tired. But when I leave the Day Hospice, I have a bit more energy. Perhaps from getting out and meeting different people. I feel more human, back to my independent self, no longer isolated and housebound. It’s like you’re given permission, just for this day, to forget you have a terminal illness.
I have done my grieving. I’ve made my plan (I want to come to the hospice to die) and I know what’s going to happen. But how I deal with my illness affects how my loved ones will cope, and this place helps me stay positive. When I am at the Day Hospice I don’t feel like I am defeated.
Even if you don’t have much money, this is one of the best things you can support. You never know when you or someone you love might need this place.
Learn more about Day Hospice here.
Every day, more people like Tina are referred to our Day Hospice for help. The NHS funds a quarter of our service, but we rely on the generous support of people like you to fund the care of three out of every four patients.
Put simply, local people like you keep the doors of our Day Hospice open. Today, I’ll receive details about people who need to attend the Day Hospice. Tomorrow, more people will be added to the waiting list. We never want to turn anyone away.
Tina says that when she came to the Day Hospice, it felt like someone had wrapped a warm duvet around her. Today you can help one more person, going through the worst of times, receive that same comfort and care. Imagine their relief when we tell them they have a place at the Day Hospice.
Visit stpetershospice.org.uk/donate to find out more about making a donation to St Peter’s Hospice.