Patrons: Bill Beaumont, Mark Lawrenson & Tisha Merry Reg Charity No: 512186

Catherine’s story

Catherine Nelson lives with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and says that the dedicated support of St Catherine’s Hospice has helped her regain her confidence and plan for the future.

COPD causes breathlessness and fatigue as the lungs’ airways are narrowed, which has had a detrimental effect on Catherine’s busy lifestyle.

But the grandmother-of-six started to understand more about her condition and how to manage it after attending a dedicated 10-week respiratory programme at the hospice. 

“I was a very active person so it’s hit me hard,” she says. “It can be difficult to plan ahead, especially things like trips away and holidays, because you just have to take each day as it comes.

“Things which you normally do without thinking can sometimes be a real struggle or impossible. I can see how people could easily get depressed, it’s very frustrating, but you’ve got to fight it and stay strong.” 

Attending the programme at St Catherine’s was helpful for Catherine, not only because she learnt about new ways of managing her symptoms, but because it also gave her the opportunity to speak with people living with similar respiratory conditions, as well as the charity’s specialist doctors and nurses.

“It felt good to off-load,” she says. “It’s different speaking to someone who isn’t personally attached to you; you can’t always have those conversations with your family, or be as honest about how you’re feeling and have a good cry, because it’s upsetting for them as well.

“People might think that they don’t need that kind of professional and peer support, but it’s invaluable. It’s emotional support and practical advice, and you can share your thoughts with others.

“It’s helped me understand things about my condition which I wish I’d known years ago – there were educational talks from dieticians, consultants, and physiotherapists, who talked about lung conditions and fatigue, and how to manage it.

“St Catherine’s is a sanctuary and gave me reason to think that my life isn’t over.”

  • Catherine appeared with St Catherine’s chief executive Stephen Greenhalgh on BBC Breakfast: