A former patient is backing St Richard’s bid to expand hospice care to more people with the charity’s Build 2020 campaign.
The Worcester-based hospice recently launched an appeal to help raise the final £1.4m urgently needed to build a bigger hospice to care for more patients and families in Worcestershire.
The £5.3m expansion and redevelopment plans have already got off to a flying start with the golden windfall of a £2m gift in a Will from a Worcestershire supporter and pledges from Trusts and grant making foundations.
Donate to support our Build 2020 appeal
Fiona Cox, 50 from Worcester has described how St Richard’s helped her get her life back on track after a cancer diagnosis.
The married mum of two teenagers says she was fit and well and very shocked to be diagnosed with bowel cancer and then liver metastasis in 2016.
Mrs Cox, who works as a pre-admission nurse in Worcester, had bowel and liver surgery along with chemotherapy.
She said, “I came to a stage after my liver operation last year when I was embarking on the second lot of chemotherapy and I just felt I wasn’t in the same frame of mind as I had been when I had my initial treatment.
“I’m a very independent, get up and go person and all of a sudden I wasn’t able to do what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. That’s when I felt I needed some extra help and decided to speak to my bowel specialist nurse who referred me to St Richard’s.
“A St Richard’s nurse came to my house and from that moment I’ve never looked back. I’ve told so many people about St Richard’s because it was just what I needed at the right time, and helped me move forward in my life.
“After talking to the hospice about what would help me, I joined the Coping with Illness eight week course. I naively thought it would be all people with cancer as it’s a hospice and I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. There were three of us with cancer, and two others with other life changing illnesses. It was remarkable because we all brought different things into the group.”
Mrs Cox added, “The two nurses and psychologist and the five of us on the course all agreed that whatever we discussed was confidential and would remain within those walls. You basically went there and took from the group what you wanted. If you wanted to go and listen and not participate you could. If you wanted to go and have a cry like I often did, because of what I was trying to express and sort out, that was acceptable too.
“When you are ill and are suffering with your sleep, bowel pattern or having mood swings – little things you would normally take with a pinch of salt and just deal with – you don’t realise other people are dealing with exactly the same. The group allowed you to realise you weren’t the only person going through what you were going through. We discussed ways to help each other.
“As well as attending the Coping with Illness course I also saw a counsellor at the hospice. I had never seen a counsellor before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. By talking things through with her and shedding yet some more tears I found the sessions really beneficial in helping me move forward with my life.
“After I finished the course and counselling I was told by St Richard’s that they are just at the end of the phone. I might have left now but I know the support is still there if ever I should need to return. I felt I was a lucky one having been given support and managing to pick myself back up.
“I’m back at work and sometimes it all seems a bit surreal – I ask myself did those 16 months really happen?
“There are many more people like me, who have had a brush with cancer and survived and are fortunate to be able to go back to their normal lifestyle. But a lot of people think of a hospice as somewhere you go to die. They don’t often know about the other services the hospice offers, and some find it too uncomfortable to talk about the issues that they’re having. People are living longer and also coping with disease and illness better, and without doubt still need support. “
St Richard’s currently supports more than 3,000 people a year. They anticipate the bigger hospice will enable the hospice team to care and support up to 4,000 individuals by 2021/22.
All the new and expanded services will run alongside St Richard’s current wide range of patient and family care including support in people’s own homes and 17 in-patient beds.
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones. The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support they can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can.
St Richard’s is an independent charity and relies on donations for three quarters of its annual £8.4m income with the remainder from the NHS.
How to support the Build 2020 appeal:
Donate: Online: Find out more and donate at www.strichards.org.uk/build2020
By post, please send a cheque to St Richard’s Hospice Build 2020 appeal, Fundraising Dept, Wildwood Drive, Worcester WR5 2QT. ( please make cheques payable to St Richard’s Hospice.
Or donate by telephoning the fundraising team on 01905 763963.