Andrew McWhirter

Andrew has Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body's organs. It's usually linked to asbestos exposure.  Mesothelioma mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) and this is the type that Andrew has.

 Andrew McWhirter's story

Andrew explains more about his condition and the care he receives from Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

“I spent 5 days in Wexham Park Hospital in August 2018 following a period of breathlessness and attended the King Edward VII hospital for a follow up biopsy where I received the diagnosis of terminal cancer.  The specialist cancer nurse at King Edward VII referred me to Rennie Grove Hospice Care and my first contact with them was when Catherine, one of the nurses, phoned me to introduce the charity and to talk about the support it could offer.

“A friend of mine received care from the former Iain Rennie Hospice at Home back in the 1980s so I was broadly familiar with the hospice at home service.

“I’m lucky that at present I don’t need any specific nursing assistance but I receive regular visits from a Rennie Grove nurse or healthcare assistant every other week and these, in addition to appointments with my GP, ensure that my condition is closely monitored.

Andrew has also benefited from Rennie Grove’s Supporting Hands service which offers supportive companionship, including practical and emotional assistance to our patients and their carers in the Buckinghamshire area.

“I’ve found the Supporting Hands service really valuable. David visits me every couple of weeks and he’s great company. We have some very interesting chats. He also provides me with some practical help too but mostly we enjoy a good conversation which is really important when you live on your own.”

David also enjoys his visits with Andrew.  He said, “I look forward to visiting Andrew. Because he has met some interesting people it is always entertaining and we are never stuck for something to talk about. It is a very pleasant and rewarding time.”

“While I know I have a terminal illness I feel that it could be years before I need specialist end of life nursing care,” Andrew continues. “However the help I am receiving right now is helping maintain my quality of life.  For instance I don’t have much of an appetite so the nurse has been giving me dietary advice and has suggested that I eat little and often. This has been very helpful. I have also been able to seek advice on the medication I have been prescribed. Just having someone to ask helps immensely.”

Quite recently Andrew felt very unwell in the night. Initially he called the NHS 111 service but started to feel much worse before the doctor had called him back. Eventually he got in touch with his son who called an ambulance.

Andrew now wonders why he didn’t call the Rennie Grove overnight service.

“The Rennie Grove nurses know me and my condition and it would have been much better if I had called them first of all. They would have known just what to do and it would have taken the pressure off me.  It was difficult explaining my condition and symptoms to people that did not know anything about me, and it was especially hard as I was feeling so unwell. In the end I called my son and he arranged the ambulance. If I had called the Rennie Grove overnight team this situation could have been made much less stressful for me and my son. I have now made sure that my son and neighbour both have the number for the overnight team so we can call them should a similar situation arise.

“It’s reassuring to know that Rennie Grove nurses are always at the end of the phone.

“Rennie Grove provides a wonderful service. I’m old enough to remember when the first hospices opened and up until then there was not much available for the terminally ill and people mainly died in hospital

“Most of us would rather be at home knowing there’s someone to call when we need them – Rennie Grove gives me this peace of mind.”

Andrew McWhirter at Masonic Lodge

Andrew’s colleagues at his Masonic Lodge have also been impressed with the care that Rennie Grove has provided to him and we were very pleased to welcome them to our base in Chalfont St Giles where they presented a cheque to our nursing team.