“X-box, TV, guitar – everything I needed, I had right there.”
Builder John Clarke talking about his time at St Catherine’s Hospice, where he stayed on the in-patient unit in February receiving specialist care to get his pain under better control.
When he was diagnosed with incurable cancer last October at the age of just 31, it was understandably a huge shock.
He was determined to approach the news with a ‘what will be, will be’ attitude – but the pain he was experiencing at home had become unmanageable.
“I was reluctant for weeks about coming to the hospice – I worried what it would be like and I felt like that meant it was the end,” he said.
“But the pain was excruciating – I needed help to get on top of it so in the end I gave in. I needn’t have worried. St Catherine’s is a home from home – I had the things I wanted around me, and family and friends could visit any time, it was very comfortable. Playing the guitar helps me to relax, so having that there and the space to play it was really important to me.
“And the staff are unbelievable – they bent over backwards every single day to help, and having the security of knowing they’re there at all hours of the day and night was reassuring.”
John – who is now under the care of community Clinical Nurse Specialist team who visit him at home – is sharing his experiences of the Lostock Hall hospice as part of the 2019 Open Up Hospice Care campaign, which sees St Catherine’s join with Hospice UK and other hospices across the country to put the spotlight on the difference they make.
This year’s theme is ‘home’ and aims to showcase and celebrate the many ways hospices recognise the importance of home – from visiting people in the community, to creating a home from home atmosphere within hospice buildings.
John has Crohn’s disease and initially put his symptoms down to that. But further investigations revealed it was colon cancer, which had also spread to his lymph nodes and liver.
The team at St Catherine’s adjusted John’s medication to try and reduce his pain and side effects, with the aim of improving his quality of life so that he could be discharged home to Leyland.
John added: “I built up a relationship with the staff, I trusted them – and we had a good laugh. They helped me get to a point where I can do the things I want, with the time I’ve got. I want to go on holiday and buy a new car; even simple little luxuries like going out for a coffee again.
“St Catherine’s does amazing work and it isn’t the place I thought it would be.”
Tracy Parkinson, in-patient unit manager at St Catherine’s, said: “At St Catherine’s we pride ourselves on creating a peaceful, relaxed and welcoming environment where patients and loved ones can feel comfortable spending quality time together.
“From photographs and musical instruments to favourite dishes at mealtimes, we aim to provide a home from home for our patients. Along with our specialised care and psychological support, it’s part of our commitment to helping those we care for live in comfort, with dignity, independence and choice – enjoying the best possible quality of life.”