In her own words, Yvonne has been ‘fighting’ bowel cancer for four years. She’s had two lots of surgery and at one point, was given 12-18 months to live. After her diagnosis in 2017, Yvonne’s beloved husband Jerry was told the following year he also had cancer and died a few months later.
“I’d had 32 rounds of chemotherapy and at the end of March, decided that I couldn’t cope anymore. Now I’m having palliative care. I’ve been told I have a ‘limited life span’ but have accepted that as I have a very positive mental attitude, and I don’t expect to die any time soon. I fight every day. I make the best of every day, as much as I can.
“But I was really poorly last week and in a lot of pain, so I was referred to Fair Havens. For five days I was in bed, and I just allowed myself to fall into the care of the Fair Havens nursing team which was wonderful.
“I feel like I’m getting back to the person I used to be. The doctors are adjusting my medication so I’m sure by the time I go home, I’ll be free from pain. I’ve got myself back into a sleep pattern which makes such a difference. The Care Team is also working on a revised care package so I can have help during the night once I go home.”
There was one experience during Yvonne’s stay at Fair Havens that will stay with her.
“I had not been immersed in water for months. I’m paralysed from the waist down and cannot stand, so have to be hoisted into position.
“Here at Fair Havens, they have the most fantastic bath. It’s like a pod that I can lay back in and be supported. It also has a jacuzzi setting. One of the Care Team gave me a facial and another did my make up. I was then asked if I’d like a glass of wine, which I was amazed at! It really was a wonderful experience.”
Yvonne has benefited from other aspect of Fair Havens’ care in the past through the Havens Hospices Wellbeing Team. Before lockdown, she’d visited the previous hospice in Chalkwell for reflexology. She’s also been supported by one of the charity’s counsellors. “I can’t tell you how much she has helped me. With everything I’d been through with my diagnosis and Jerry dying, she listened. I don’t know what I’d have done without her support.”
Yvonne was a local estate agent for 25 years. The 67 year old has a great support network around her. She speaks to her sister and Jerry’s sister every day. Yvonne’s brother has taken over caring for her garden.
Son Gary and his wife visit often with their young daughter, and they speak several times a day. Yvonne also has a stepson and stepdaughter as well as five grandchildren who she describes as ‘…the light of my life.’ Her large circle of friends phone, message and visit regularly.
“I’ve got my head around dying and live the best I can every day until it happens, but I don’t feel it’s imminent for me yet. I was a bit worried about coming into Fair Havens but I was so unwell and didn’t feel safe at home, so was actually relieved when I was admitted. It took just a couple of hours to realise how wonderful the care of Fair Havens would be.
“I’d say to everybody not to be afraid to come into the hospice. The atmosphere here is so calm and peaceful.”
“During my professional working life, I had a lot of tailored clothes but don’t wear them anymore. So I decided, with help from my friends, to have a clothes sale. We displayed them all on clothes rails and sent Whatsapp invitations. My friends were in and out all day, bought what they wanted and put money in a tin. Even if they didn’t buy something, they still made a donation. Altogether, we raised £1,400 for Havens Hospices and I donated the remaining clothes to the charity’s shops. I’m so glad to give something back to the charity that has supported me so much.”
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Published in 2021
I was a bit worried about coming into Fair Havens but I was so unwell and didn’t feel safe at home, so was actually relieved when I was admitted. It took just a couple of hours to realise how wonderful the care of Fair Havens would be