Ann Ginger (71) is currently in remission following treatment for bowel cancer and has now been discharged from our care. She explains how the Rennie Grove Hospice at Home nurses supported her and her family through her treatment…
“I remember having a sharp pain in my abdomen one Friday evening and as it didn’t improve over the weekend, my husband, David, made me an appointment to see our GP first thing Monday. She sent me straight to hospital where I had an urgent operation. We all thought it was appendicitis so I was shocked to learn that they’d cut out a tumour. The pain I’d felt was caused by it bursting. I was lucky they got to it when they did. My oncologist said there were two types of cancer within the tumour, one of which was very aggressive. That meant, although they’d managed to remove the whole tumour successfully, that I needed to have a hefty course of chemotherapy.
“At this point I was feeling OK and I remember a period of six weeks or so following the operation where I felt increasingly well. I think that made it all the more of a shock to feel so utterly awful once the chemo started. It made me so sick and my stomach felt so uncomfortable. I remember thinking ‘please just let me die’ – I didn’t want to live if life was this unbearable. It was at this point that my doctor referred me to Rennie Grove.
“When a nurse first came to see me, she simply sat by my bedside for two hours, holding my hand, listening to me and responding to my concerns. She was so gentle and so lovely and she somehow gave me hope. At my lowest ebb, to know there was someone who understood – because they’d seen it so many times before – made such a difference to me. David was brilliant, but he found it hard to cope with my sickness. He’d battled kidney cancer a year previously but thankfully hadn’t needed chemo. I had a wonderful oncologist too; we got on really well and I felt at ease with him. He always said to call his secretary at any time if we had any concerns – but I just found it easier to talk to a nurse in my own home.
“The nurses knew what was needed and they could arrange for a prescription to be prepared on the same day. They even liaised with my oncologist, and I was amazed by this joined up approach to my care. They always had time and they were never in a rush; although they must have had so many other patients to see, I never sensed this during their visits. There were still times when I wanted to give up but I kept thinking ‘they’re all trying to help me’.
“I know someone in Milton Keynes who is going through a similar experience - but without the additional support that Rennie Grove provides. She feels she has no-one to talk to. We are so, so lucky to have this service in our area.
“I had my last dose of chemo in the autumn and I’m feeling stronger every day. Last summer, I remember sitting in the conservatory looking out on my garden and thinking ‘next year I’ll be out there”. And I’m so pleased to have been able to plant all my hanging baskets and containers this year. I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ – I’m just enjoying getting my ‘normal’ life back.”