‘St Catherine’s taught me small lifestyle changes which have made all the difference to my quality of life’
‘The fish and chips and the Sunday dinners are my favourite – oh and the pudding and custard! I’ve been eating and sleeping really well and I’m not in pain anymore; I feel like myself again.’
A mum-of-two who stayed on our inpatient unit for two weeks in January told how the small details made all the difference as she was preparing to return home to her family.
As well as managing her physical symptoms, Anne Astwick said St Catherine’s helped her to adapt her lifestyle and make small but meaningful changes to help improve her quality of life in the long-term.
Anne, 57, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March last year, and has undergone countless treatments and tests including 18 weeks of chemotherapy, three weeks of radiotherapy, mammograms, CT scans, and blood tests, and has spent a lot of time in both Preston and Chorley hospitals.
“It’s felt like a very long journey,” she said. “There’s history of breast cancer in my family so I have a scan every January and last year it didn’t pick anything up. A couple of months later I was turning over in bed and felt a big lump under my armpit so I got it checked straight away. They then found two lumps in my breast and cancer cells in my lymph nodes.”
After a turbulent year, Anne spent 10 days over Christmas in hospital, and shortly after returning to her Mellor home on New Year’s Eve she began to experience excruciating pain in her back. The cancer had spread into her bones and was present in her spine, hips, chest, ribs, arms and legs.
“I was in hospital again by mid-January and the pain was horrendous, all over my body,” she said. “My head was pounding. It was the worst I’ve ever felt.
“I work as a receptionist at a GP surgery in Longridge so I was aware of St Catherine’s and had always heard how well they look after people, so I asked if the hospice was an option for me. I wasn’t ready to go back home; I felt I needed some more support and pain management first. I didn’t really realise the extent of the care and support the hospice actually provides though until I was referred there.
“I felt a sense of relief as soon as I arrived. I had the best night’s sleep ever that night.”
Grandma-of-two Anne returned home in early February. She added: “I feel like myself again; the staff at St Catherine’s really helped me to manage my medication and taught me how to cope with my condition in lots of different ways. It was small things like making sure I don’t rush when trying to get out of bed, and to eat smaller meals. They’re small lifestyle changes but they’ve made such a difference and have helped me to move forward.
“I really got my appetite back when I was at the hospice too, I ate loads and the food was so good! I enjoyed fresh fruit and yogurts, and salmon. It’s those details which make you feel better in yourself.
“I was there during the national lockdown so visiting was restricted on the inpatient unit. It was difficult being away from my husband, daughters and grandchildren, but the staff showed me how to set up WhatsApp so we could video call every day which really helped.
“The Support Team even helped me fill out various forms and advised about benefits and other financial considerations. I didn’t realise how much advice and guidance was available until I experienced the hospice’s care myself. They are there for you for whatever you need, and they made me feel confident enough to go back home.”
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