Hospice rehab team get Bryan back on his feet
A man who could not get out of bed when he first came to St Catherine’s Hospice is now back on his feet and looking forward to the future again thanks to his hard work, determination and specialist input from the hospice’s physiotherapy and in-patient unit team.
When Bryan Whalley, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoema – a cancer which affects the lymphatic system – first arrived at St Catherine’s he was bed-bound and feeling low. The condition had left him completely de-motivated and he admits the prognosis ‘was not good’.
But eight weeks on, thanks to his positive attitude and hard work coupled with the help he has received from hospice physiotherapists Maureen Howe and Claire Cain, Bryan can now get out of bed, move about in his electric wheelchair, and is busy building up his strength in his legs through a variety of different exercises.
Bryan is also looking forward to a new chapter in his life as he is discharged from St Catherine’s to a specialist rehabilitation unit, where he hopes his condition will improve even further.
Bryan, aged 76, said: “When I first came to St Catherine’s I had almost given up – I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want people around me.
“But the staff at St Catherine’s hadn’t given up on me – that was what was so important. They showed me there was something to keep fighting for and knowing I still had something to work towards was such a morale boost.
“I wanted some of my independence back and the rehabilitation I’ve been through at St Catherine’s has helped me with that. I have given 100 per cent, and so have they in return.”
Although Bryan – who is currently receiving chemotherapy to help treat his condition, even though it can’t be cured – still needs to use equipment to help him stand, it is a vast improvement on the situation when he first arrived when he was dependent on a hoist to move anywhere.
During his stay at the hospice, he has made use of the small on-site gym and also been able to enjoy the grounds of St Catherine’s – something he has particularly appreciated.
“Getting the right wheelchair sorted for me was a God send. It means I can get out and enjoy some fresh air, I am not sitting in the room day in and day out,” he said.
“Each day I do my exercises, incorporating them into my daily routine, and each day I want to get stronger. Getting some of my independence back has been like winning the lottery, and I’m really excited to see what else I can achieve over the next six weeks at rehab.
“I am the proof that hospices are not just a place where people go to die. Along with my daughter, the people at St Catherine’s have helped me take things quite literally one step at a time, they have given me hope again, and they have helped me to make the most of every day.”
Bryan’s daughter Sharon Spencer also praised the ‘responsive and individualised’ care at St Catherine’s, and said it had helped her dad to feel motivated and enthusiastic again.
Sharon said: “The staff at St Catherine’s have expertly supported both my dad and I through the ups and downs. They have worked consistently as a team with integrity, professionalism and empathy, providing a quality service which has created the ideal environment for my dad to work towards achieving his goals.
“Within hours of his admission to St Catherine’s, dad was noticeably content as he was made to feel welcome and cared about. His symptoms were managed effectively and he became much stronger. He has been very happy during his time there.”
Physiotherapists Maureen and Claire, along with volunteer therapy assistant Sue Hall, said it had been wonderful to share Bryan’s journey with him.
Maureen said: “When Bryan first arrived with us, we worked with him to assess his situation and his wants and needs.
“It soon became clear he was very keen to gain back some control over his condition, and our assessment showed there was potential to work with to help him improve.
“Bryan’s journey has been quite up and down, but throughout it all his motivation has remained. Myself, Claire and the hospice in-patient unit team are delighted to have been able to help, but the hard work has all been down to Bryan.”
Claire added: “It is fantastic that Bryan is now being given the opportunity to further build on his brilliant progress at the rehabilitation unit.
“We are so pleased to have been able to help open up that chance for him – you can see how much it means to him. All of his achievements so far will I’m sure spur him on through this next phase.
“Bryan is a marvellous example of how an incurable cancer diagnosis does not have to mean the end. Rather than focusing on what he can’t do, we have focused on all that he can do – and proved that there can be life again after coming to the hospice.”
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