Marilyn praises stay at St Catherine’s Hospice as she returns home for Christmas
‘There will always be dark days but St Catherine’s has made me realise there’s a light at the end of the tunnel’.
A grandmother has described her time at St Catherine’s Hospice during the Coronavirus pandemic as being like ‘a home from home’, and says she is grateful that the charity could still be there for people like her during such difficult and challenging days.
Marilyn Osborne was cared for on the inpatient unit at the Lostock Hall hospice for a week in early December, and became well enough to return home to her family in time for Christmas.
The mum-of-six, who has 15 grandchildren, said: “I didn’t think I would be able to enjoy Christmas because I was in so much pain and discomfort before going to St Catherine’s. But they got my pain under control and couldn’t do enough for me. They treat you like an individual and they get to know you. I feel like myself again, I actually feel great. Christmas will be a quiet one this year but it will be really nice spending it at home. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Marilyn, who lives with two of her sons in Ribbleton, Preston, was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years ago after travelling back from a visit to her daughter’s in New Zealand. She was experiencing chest pains and was struggling to breathe properly, and doctors initially thought it was a blood clot caused by the long flight. However a CT scan confirmed it was cancer.
She had parts of her lung removed and is undergoing chemotherapy. She spent some time in Preston Hospital from September and was admitted to St Catherine’s for pain and symptom management.
The 66-year-old has also been suffering with pheochromocytoma – a rare type of tumour in the adrenal gland above the kidneys – for around 20 years, which gives her headaches, sickness and fever-like symptoms which are mainly managed by medication.
“I really didn’t know what to expect from the hospice and I was a bit nervous about going there,” she said. “But I must admit I was surprised by how beautiful it is and how fantastic the staff are. In my situation you have to think about the future, and I had always said I wanted to die at home. But when the time comes, it really wouldn’t worry me at all if I was to go back to St Catherine’s. It’s such a peaceful and loving place.”
Marilyn, a retired care attendant and cleaner who has also worked on farms and in sewing and shoe factories, said it was the small gestures as well as the specialist palliative care which really made a difference to her quality of life.
“One day I felt too ill to eat my tea, but I woke up in the night feeling really hungry so they made me coffee and toast. The Christmas lights are up in the grounds at the minute and they look beautiful, and a nurse took me round the gardens in my wheelchair one day to see everything, which was very special.”
She added: “They put everything in place for my return home and they’re just at the end of the phone if I need any advice or support. It’s so reassuring knowing that St Catherine’s is there for me even now I’m at home, and that I can speak to someone I know by name. Being ill can be really frightening at times and there will always be dark days, but St Catherine’s has made me realise there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
St Catherine’s has continued to care for people with life-shortening illnesses at the hospice and in people’s own homes through the community Clinical Nurse Specialists throughout the pandemic. Some consultations have been carried out remotely where possible, particularly during the national lockdowns, and other new ways of working and providing services have been implemented for everyone’s safety, including the use of specialist PPE.
The Support Team, which provides advice and guidance to carers and bereaved members of the community, has continued to be there for people via phone and Microsoft Teams, and the charity has introduced new ways for people to honour their loved ones and come together ‘virtually’ for remembrance occasions.
Marilyn said: “St Catherine’s felt like a home from home and the staff went above and beyond even through Covid. I’m really grateful that the hospice is still providing such amazing care and doing what it has always done for people like me, despite all the changes and challenges. It has helped me so much.”
St Catherine’s Hospice must raise £4million of its annual £5.8million running costs every single year, with £1.8m provided by the NHS. Fundraising efforts have been greatly impacted by the pandemic in 2020, with the charity’s big community events like Yellow Day and the Christmas Festival being cancelled, The Mill café and shops having to close for months at a time, and door-to-door lottery collections ceasing.
– If you would like to support your local hospice with a donation this Christmas, or set up a direct debit to make a regular monthly contribution to help St Catherine’s through the aftermath of the pandemic in 2021 and beyond, please click here or call 01772 629171.
We are also welcoming Light Up A Life dedications in memory of loved ones up until the end of January, and the lights are shining brightly in St Catherine’s Park in tribute to those being honoured. Please click here for more details.
Share with your friends!