John was an inpatient at St Ann’s Hospice in Heald Green, here John’s wife, Pam, shares their story and experience of St Ann’s.
My world was turned upside down when my fabulous husband John was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer. He was always fit, enjoyed life, and had just taken early retirement. We had so many plans.
When he was diagnosed he was given just six months to live, but he always liked to prove people wrong. Over three years he had various treatments and operations, getting gradually weaker, and when the doctors came to talk to us about how we would face the last weeks of his life together, John chose to be admitted to St Ann’s.
I can’t explain what a relief it was that, from the moment we walked through the door of the hospice, the staff were there to help and support us every step of the way.
Over the last three years, I’d spent time as John’s carer, looking after him and seeing to his personal needs – something which was often quite challenging as at 6 feet tall he was quite a handful for me to cope with. But, at St Ann’s the staff took on those caring duties, so I was able to resume my proper status as his wife.
They made him more comfortable and managed his symptoms, which in turn eased some of my worries. They always included me in any discussions and life, though not what we wanted, returned to being pleasant and peaceful. We could make the most of the time we had left together and that’s something I’m eternally grateful for.
Since John died, I have been supported by St Ann’s in other ways – both immediately afterwards, but also more long-term now that I’ve decided to become a volunteer here.
Before John was ill I had, as many people do, thought that a hospice was a scary, sad place that was just for people who were dying. But that’s just not true. St Ann’s is like my second family, and I’m still feeling their support now. I’ll always be grateful for everything they did for John – and everything they are still doing for me.
The hospice means such a lot to me, in so many different ways. And I like to give back to them through volunteering and I regularly support the fundraising appeals the teams run here, and donate to my local St Ann’s shop.
The reason I am so passionate about supporting St Ann’s is not just the amazing care they gave to both me and to John – it’s the overwhelming warm and friendly feeling you get when you walk into any of the hospice sites. I recently heard that feeling described as a warm blanket of love, and for many people – including me - it really does feel like a second home.