A cancer diagnosis is awful news to hear. Pauline told us how the Hospice has been there for her with support groups online.
I was referred to the Hospice after I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in late 2020. I had no idea then what help they could offer, but I was quickly contacted by social workers, and community nurses. In the very beginning I got lots of practical support: they were instrumental in me getting a Blue Badge, and helped me get the carer's allowance as well.
Since then, I've attended lots of different online groups for my wellbeing. I wasn't familiar with Zoom before, but it's second nature now.
The first course I did was brilliant. There are other people in a similar situation to you, so it made you feel in a safe welcoming place. We didn't actually need to talk about our individual symptoms at all, we could draw on the resources of the course to feel safe: meditation, hand massage, things like that. We shared favourite pieces of music and poetry, and could make suggestions about other activities to share.
Setting goals at the beginning helped me to focus, and gave me something to look forward to. When you have goals, on days you’re not feeling so well you think yes, I'll join anyway. It helps uplift you for that half an hour, or hour.
Now I do relaxation, which makes you feel really good, and gives you a chance to be outside yourself. Every week there are drop-in sessions, an hour when you could just have a chat with like-minded people. Some people need to talk and get things off their chest; others just want to talk about everyday topics. It's a breathing space where you don't have to talk about your illness; you can just be normal and relax a bit. I do the sanctuary for people of all faiths on a Friday. We have a chat about anything and everything and put the world to rights – followed by a visualisation and meditation, which leaves you with a lovely sense of peace and wellbeing. There's a weekly quiz too. Usually I've had chemotherapy in the morning so by the afternoon my brain is not working – but no one's worried about whether you do well, lots of banter goes on!
Being online hasn't been harder, it's been brilliant. During the pandemic, I was classed as very very vulnerable and wasn't able to go out. The Zoom groups made me feel connected with the world again. It gave you that feeling that you weren't alone. I remember one lady who was very reticent in the beginning, didn't think the groups would be for her – but at the end she said 'I feel as though I've made friends'.
Knowing that support was there, it gave me a lot of confidence. The Hospice is brilliant, and I'm just so grateful.Back to News