Living with breast cancer
Pam has had a number of major health issues over the years, having been diagnosed with breast cancer more than 22 years ago, which later spread to her lymph nodes and her bones. She has had several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is still seen by her consultant every three months for bone scans.
Most people would see a cancer diagnosis as something to fear, but Pam has a steely determination not to let it get to her. She thinks cancer has given her a new life, that she has a purpose and that she is still here for a reason, to help educate others.
In 1992 Pam was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder which she thinks was brought on by her Nan’s death, they were very close. When she died she didn’t grieve fully and finally, in 2013, she had a breakdown. Her psychiatrist referred her to St Joseph’s Hospice for respite care and she agreed to come in for a few weeks and ended up staying three for some extra care. At the time she remembers she didn’t know that hospices did respite care and wasn’t even sure what it was.
When Pam first visited, she stayed on St Anne’s Ward in room 2, opposite the nurse’s station. For the first week she was really quiet as she didn’t know what to expect or how to behave, it was a whole new adventure.
She spent the week taking it all in, and said she felt wanted, maybe for the first time as her family weren’t that good with her and not very understanding about her ill health. She loves the sense of community at St Joseph’s, she sees the staff as her family, not just the nurses but the volunteers and the domestics, the porters and the office staff.
Pam had a series of heart attacks earlier this year and has recently had another stay on St Anne’s Ward. She’s doing really well now and other than a planned stay over New Year she will be signed off by the Medical Team. Pam is delighted by this news as it means she is medically stable and has been on cloud nine ever since but although she will be back weekly for choir practice, she knows she will miss her “hospice family”.
Pam has embraced the whole hospice experience and goes to knitting club and art club; she has reiki, acupuncture and massage and has regular counselling sessions with our therapists.
Pam summed up St Joseph’s by saying “It’s my family. It’s given me a purpose to my life and I really love feeling part of something so special. I’ve made lots of proper friends, people who don’t want anything from you. I’ve just been accepted to train as a Compassionate Neighbour and I’m really excited about it, maybe that’s the reason I’m still here. Thank you St Joseph’s and all the staff for putting up with me because I know I can be a handful!”