My first knowledge of what St Mary’s Hospice offers was when my Nanna was seriously ill and the district nurse suggested Hospice at Home could help. My parents were looking after her 24/7. Hospice at Home offered my parents a break on a couple of occasions, a lovely lady sat through the night with my nanna. This was back in 2015.
Sadly in October 2016 my mam was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, mam was offered help from various agencies, McMillan being one, the nurse from McMillan suggested St Mary’s may be able to not only help mam but could possibly help all the family. We were contacted by St Mary’s and decided Family & Bereavement support team could give us the help we required. The one to one sessions I had were invaluable, I was helped with breathing exercises, relaxation, it was suggested that I wrote things down and talk to my mam and family. I was also offered complementary therapy, which is for the patient and family, mam didn’t fancy it, I had the massage, I felt so relaxed afterwards, I would treat myself to lunch and a hot chocolate in the lovely Orangery. The family support showed me around the hospice as I didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking it would be like hospital, it was more like home, the rooms are lovely, clean and have great views. I thought the hospice was just for cancer patients, how wrong was I, the In Patient Unit is for people living with any illness such as cancer, lung, heart and neurological disease.
Sadly mam lost her battle in June 2018, although mam didn’t use any services from the hospice as a family we continued after mam’s passing. They mentioned that they held a monthly coffee evening which people in similar situations attended, the first time was scary as I didn’t know what to expect, I’m so glad I took that step and went with my dad, as we have had so much support and made some lovely friends.
My dad also attended the Make Do and Mend sessions in which he has upcycled some lovely pieces of furniture. I have lost a few friends and family who have lived and fought cancer, so with it being close to my heart I decided to support the hospice. I’ve done the Walk To Remember a few times and I have already signed up for this year, as a family we have donated in lots of ways and will continue to do so.
After my mam’s death I decided that I would like to give more to the hospice, so I put in to become a volunteer, I had a meeting and was asked if I would like to help out in the Barrow shop. I do two afternoons a week and absolutely love it, all the volunteers and staff are lovely and supportive, I’ve built up good friendships with some of the customers. My role in the shop is to sort out the donations and bring them down to the shop floor, I sometimes do the window displays, which I enjoy doing as I get good feedback from the customers, and most importantly is looking after the customers. I have also just agreed to become a volunteer as an Activity Helper at the Living Well Centre on Duke Street in Barrow.
If there is anyone out there that is unsure about getting in touch, I would say pick up the phone and arrange to get the help and support offered, I’m so glad I made that move, it’s helped me so much.
Thank you to all staff and volunteers that are helping me along my journey.