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Moments shared

Patients, family and supporters share their experiences of our care and their support


James on our in-patient unit

07 January 2014

I had just returned from holiday in the south of France when a doctor at Ely hospital raised concerns about a mark on my hand and noticed something different about my nails which led him to believe I may have a chest complaint. I had tests and although not at all feeling unwell, I was diagnosed with a tumour on my right lung on 20th September 2011.
I initially received chemotherapy but my body couldn’t deal with the toxins so I had radiotherapy. This was very successful this reduced my tumour from 7.8cms in size to 1.3cms in just two months. 
Unfortunately, the treatment damaged my lung, making it useless. I had an exploratory operation and found the tumour was in the middle lobe and had also touched my top and bottom lobe but with emphysema in my other lung it was not possible to remove the right lung which would have been the preferred treatment.
In February this year, I went to Addenbrookes as I couldn’t breathe. I had contracted pneumonia and my lung had collapsed. I was there for three weeks and they were really good and looked after me well. They cleared my infection and reduced my temperature, which meant I could return home. Whilst being at home, Ely based district nurses have been checking me over regularly, they look for changes to my health and even that helps to relax you.
Two months ago, I discovered the cancer had spread to my lungs, kidneys and stomach and as a result it was decided I needed a gold standard palliative programme of care. I am well aware nothing can now help. I received a letter from the hospital which said, in black and white, that I am approaching end of life and that set it out very clearly. I’m realistic. I try not to let it get me down. 
It, in fact, made me want to get things in order for my wife and I have taken satisfaction from knowing that I have done all I can to get my things in place for after I’ve gone.  Things like my pension and my finances. In October, it was time to come here. I had encountered complications with digesting food and therefore the nurses have been able to offer me treatment to help with this. I had been to the hospice before as I had previously attended day therapy so I knew about the hospice. Day therapy was important for me and my wife. It was good to see other patients, we didn’t necessarily talk about our own diagnosis, we had these discussions with the nurses and these were helpful. Transport was arranged for both my wife and I which was helpful, as she is quite a distance away. It’s good for me to know my wife’s being well looked after as well as me.
Throughout my illness, I have had help throughout from the district nurses, the clinical team and I have had dealings with here too. If you have to be away from home, you couldn’t be in a better place than here.  It is a really special place. It’s the care that is so special. It’s so relaxed and the little things make the difference. For example, until recently when my medication changed, I have even been able to have two glasses of red wine of the evening, something I particularly enjoy. The foods is really good too, particularly the fish and chips. Being here is like living with family, you have something in common with everyone and its felt like this right from the start, even in day therapy. 
There’s a calmness here, and the staff have time to deal with you. It’s a peaceful place to be, it’s very easy to relax here! As well as looking after me, the staff look after the welfare of my family and I take contentment from knowing my family are also being helped. I am able to deal with my illness and it is difficult for my family to see me unwell but the nurses have been a great help.
I have been in the hospice for four weeks now and I am returning home on Monday to spend time with my wife. I have got support when I return home, I have nurses coming in in the mornings to help me get up and dressed, and they will come at night or even during the day if needed, I’ve got a special arrangement to fund this as I have a complex combination of illnesses.
I have also got apparatus that I am being supplied with to help me. I have a special piece of equipment so I can sit upright in bed; I have had a settee raised, so I can get in and out of bed more easily. I now just want to live life the best I can. I have received such good care from those here, everyone has been so good to me, I hope my story can be of help to someone else.




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