“Our preconceived ideas were blown out of the water.”
Today one of our former service users, who wished to remain anonymous, shares her story and the positive impact Kilbryde hospice had on both her and her husband’s outlook after his cancer journey. Here is her story…
“Over the past five years our family have experienced many major traumas culminating in my husband’s diagnosis of a malignant growth on his kidney resulting in surgery to have the organ removed. The surgery was 100% successful and his physical recovery was virtually problem free.
He returned to work some three months after his surgery. However, in the intervening period the death of a close family member took its toll on both of us. I had a period off work due to stress. I too then returned to work and life, we thought, would go back to normal – which it did for a while. Around five months later the enormity of what he had gone through hit him and as a result he had to take time off work to regroup.
Christmas/New Year came and went, there were further major traumatic situations within the immediate and extended family and I began to have further health issues resulting in my being singed off work also. We were both very low mentally and physically at that time. We were acutely aware that we had much to be extremely grateful for – all had gone better than we could possibly have hoped for with his surgery and we are very fortunate to have a close knit supportive family network – but that was not enough at that point in time to lift us.
During a routine visit to the doctor it was suggested that my husband contact the hospice to see if any assistance could be offered to help him deal with his diagnosis and surgery. We made our way to the hospice and sat in the car for a time gathering the courage to walk through the door.
I’m not sure that either of us will ever forget taking that first difficult step as we, with many others, were under the illusion that a hospice is where people go to die and by definition is a less than happy place to be. How wrong could we be! When we went in we both received the warmest of welcomes and our preconceived ideas were blown out of the water. Angela and Lizanne invited us to sit with the other people there for a cup of tea and a chat. For the first time my husband said out loud that he was a cancer survivor who needed help in coming to terms with his situation. To my surprise I was asked how I had coped – I had thought I was only there in a supporting role for him. When Linda joined the group she didn’t say anything but simply held my hand and I knew then we were both in safe hands.
We had a long chat with the others in the group and before we left arrangements were made for us both to return to set things in motion for our onward journey. We both got back in the car, looked at each other and for the first time in a long time felt positive about the future.
We went back as arranged and spoke to Lynsay for initial assessment. It was agreed that my husband would attend for relaxation classes and an appointment with Janice to discuss which therapy would help him most and I would have sessions with Linda. It was explained that our needs at this point in time were different and that different courses for each of us were needed to help us both get over events.
My husband duly attended the relaxation sessions and, after a couple of classes, began to feel the benefit of these. He also had sessions with Janice which he found to his surprise were also of benefit. After some weeks he felt that attendance at counselling sessions may help and this was arranged – once again he has felt the benefit of attending these sessions.
I had sessions with Linda and found them to be extremely helpful and beneficial. I also attended the drop in relaxation classes which help me enormously. I now find that when I feel myself becoming stressed I use the techniques learned help combat the situation. Just sitting in a group round a table having a chat is so therapeutic in ways that I would not have believed possible.
To sum up, I don’t know how we would have coped if we hadn’t found the help provided by so many people, both professional and the volunteers when we did. The atmosphere at the hospice is difficult to describe – safe, supportive and happy are just some of the words that come to mind.
The ethos that mind, body and spirit must be in tune is so simple but that is sometimes difficult to achieve. This happy state is now almost within reach for both of us and for that we will be forever grateful.”