22nd December 2023

Vanessa’s story

Vanessa pictured at the hospice with a collection of colourful paper Christmas trees. Vanessa is wearing a dark purple jumper and a cream and grey striped scarf. She is smiling.

Meet Vanessa

Last year, Vanessa was admitted to our In-patient Unit following a diagnosis of colon cancer.

“Despite the fact that I was so ill and felt so sick and was told I was dying, coming to St Richard’s was like being cushioned all around,” she recalls.

“I felt like a baby in a cradle. Somehow, death wasn’t important when I was there, St Richard’s had taken all the anxiety out of it with the kindness and the care and the love.

“When you know you are going to die, what you are afraid of is the process around your death. You just knew there was going to be somebody with you, holding your hand.”

Around the same time, Vanessa’s husband, Ian, was due to have an operation following a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

The day before Ian’s operation, staff at the hospice arranged a special tea for the couple in Vanessa’s room (pictured).

“Staff at St Richard’s did their absolute best to try and make good memories for me and my husband,” she added.

Ian said: “Neither of us knew with any certainty whether we would meet again. The extra special efforts made by the catering staff made this occasion very memorable.”

Vanessa in bed at the hospice, with her husband Ian by her side. In the foreground is a trolley filled with cakes and tea for the couple.

Over time, with support from the hospice teams, Vanessa’s strength began to return.

She could take part in much-loved craft activities from her bed – including making beautiful paper Christmas trees, like those pictured.

Eventually, she was well enough to return home.

Since leaving IPU, Vanessa has taken part in Living Well courses at the hospice, including Fatigue Management, to help manage the symptoms of her illness.

She has received complementary therapy and is set to take part in adapted Tai Chi sessions. And, she attends the Knit and Natter session in The Green every second Wednesday of the month.

Vanessa, who previously volunteered at St Richard’s with the Hospices Lottery, added: “It is such a cushion and comfort to know there is St Richard’s to come to. Whenever I think of this place, I get a warm glow.”

To find out more about St Richard’s services, visit www.strichards.org.uk/our-care