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Susan's Story

When we bumped into Susan for the first time last week, she was taking in some morning fresh air and exploring the Hospice gardens on her small electric scooter. Without being prompted, she started talking about how lucky she felt to be staying on the In-Patient Ward and how lovely the Hospice is.

She joked about secretly having hoped to die on the 8th May, her birthday, as that would have had a nice ‘fullness of the circle’ about it. She also joked that she’d been out on her scooter the day before and had fibbed with someone she bumped into that she was ‘escaping’!

We caught up with Susan in her private bedroom on the ward later that day to talk more about her experiences. She told us: “The best way to explain what coming to the Hospice is like, is receiving an invisible cuddle as soon as you walk through the door. It hasn’t taken me long to refer to this place as ‘home’. People are coming to visit me all the time, including my dog Minderella. I know for a fact, that this is where I will be leaving from – if not physically – then mentally if I go home from here. I’ll take it with me.”

Susan explained that she was referred to the Hospice by her Macmillan Nurse Louise, who had done a wonderful job in preparing her for what to expect. So she had no fears.

“A big part of my decision to come to St Cuthbert’s Hospice was that it would help my family. Stop them from worrying so much. I didn’t realise that by pushing myself to stay at home was causing them more concern, and I really didn’t want that. They have little people to raise and I don’t want them worrying about me. As a family we understand care needs and planning ahead, but I’d not applied that to myself. I’m so happy that I came here. It’s taken many of my girls worries away.”

As we chat, a nurse knocks at the door and asks Susan if she’d still like to try Reiki later. Susan tells us: “I’ve never tried it before, but at this stage I’ll try anything.”

Susan stands outside a glass fronted shop with a shopping bag slung playfully over her shoulder. She is dressed in colourful clothes and is smiling at the camera. She is wearing sunglasses and using a walking aid.Susan describes being diagnosed with cancer as a fluke. She had been having a routine check when ‘something not quite right’ was discovered. It was a long process to the actual diagnosis.

“Five years of chemo and hormone therapy followed, yet the cancer marched on. When my Oncologist explained the last round he said that this was the one that would make my hair fall out. The regime was tough on me and it wasn’t a hard decision to stop the treatment as it was so painful. When palliative care was mentioned I had some understanding of what that meant.”

We paused our chat at this point as Susan had visitors to catch up with.

When we caught up again a few days later she was packing up her belongings and getting ready to be discharged home.

“I’m feeling really positive about going home. The Hospice is a gold-star service in my eyes, every team member works so hard. They’re all like links in a chain working closely with other care organisations. I know if things go a bit ‘Pete Tong’ when I get home that I’d be able to be referred again to come back. When the time comes, the Hospice is now my preferred place to die. I’m not frightened at all.”

We’re so grateful to Susan for sharing her experiences with us in the hopes that other families may feel less scared about coming to the Hospice too should they need us.


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If you would like to visit the hospice please can you contact either the Patient Services Manager or the Day Hospice Lead Nurse at the hospice on 0191 386 1170.

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