Allen’s story

“Our plan is to get me out of the Hospice and home, better than when I came in. So I can go home and do the things I want to do – hopefully, going for walks with my dog Molly again.”

“My name is Allen and I was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer in the spring of 2022. I was 56 years old at the time. It came as a shock and was devastating news.”

“I’ve worked in agriculture almost all my working life, and was working on a farm at the time. It’s very physical work and I’ve always been as strong as a butcher’s dog.”

“In the March my foot had swelled up, but I didn’t think anything of it. My boss said I should get it checked out, but the GP couldn’t see anything wrong. Then the swelling went up to my knee, and I started feeling lethargic. I went back to the GP and they thought it was caused by an insect bite. Next the swelling went right up my leg to my groin, and now the doctor was concerned. They sent me to have tests.”

“So I had blood tests and a series of scans. Within a week the results came back that I had cancer. It was huge news.”

“Despite the news I carried on working – my daily life didn’t change at all. There was a huge amount of work to do on the farm. But by the summer, I found I couldn’t even lift a small hay bale. The change was really rapid. I went from as strong as a butcher’s dog, to not having strength and needing to stop to sleep during the day.”

“It was devastating. Stuff I could always do, I couldn’t do any more.”

“My boss was really good. He knew what I was going through as his family members had experienced cancer, so he was really understanding. I kept working as long as I could, through the very hot summer when we had fires on the farmland.”

“I knew I was getting worse in the summer of 2022 when I invited the family round for a BBQ at my house. I managed to get the food cooked, and gave people drinks, then I just had to go to my room and sleep. Shortly after that my Mum, who had been diagnosed with cancer too, was told that she only had 6 to 8 weeks to live.”

“I decided to quit my job and move home with my Mum and Dad in Manuden to be with them. I packed my things immediately and got in a van with my dog Molly. But Mum lived for just 5 days after her diagnosis. She sadly died at the start of August.”

“I still moved home to help care for my Dad, who has Alzheimer’s. But my pain got worse and by mid-December I was living with a lot of pain. I was admitted to Addenbrooke’s hospital for pain management, and when I came out, St Clare’s Hospice at Home team helped me at home.”

A stay on the Inpatient Unit

“I was taken to hospital again with severe pain in January 2023, and they tried to get on top of the pain but it’s been difficult.”

“They had a bed for me in the Inpatient Unit at St Clare Hospice and I came here for pain and symptom management.”

“I’ve been here for nine days now, as the doctors and nurses work to try and alter my medications to manage my pain. It’s a learning curve, as they try and work out what drugs work for me.”

“My aim, and the doctors’ aim, is to get my pain under control and sort things out so that I can go home. We’re trying to make a plan for me and my Dad. My motivation is to get out of bed, get home, and hopefully be able to walk my dog Molly again.”

“Molly is a Patterdale cross Labrador and I’ve had her since a puppy – she’ll be 9 years old this year. The nurses have said that she’s welcome to come into the Hospice to visit me – but we haven’t done that yet. Molly’s well behaved and she’d love going in and out of all the patient’s bedrooms!”

“The nurses and all the staff have been very good. They have got to know my ways, and let me be myself. Some of the nurses share my sense of humour – they banter with me about being a Spurs fan!”

Helped to feel like myself again

“When I first arrived at St Clare I hadn’t cut my hair or shaved for about ten weeks, so I had grown a beard. I haven’t been able to stand for long enough, and wasn’t able to shave my face or head myself anymore. I am always, normally clean-shaven and have shaved hair, so I really didn’t look like myself. When my friends visited me at the Hospice they said it didn’t look like me, and I needed to at least lose the beard.”

“When Maria, one of the Nursing Assistants, heard how I felt about my hair and beard, she went and got the clippers and shaving equipment. She did a really good job of shaving me and cutting my hair how I like it. It really made me feel like myself again. Maria is a diamond!”

“The nurses didn’t recognise me at first when they came back in my room and saw me – it was such a transformation. It’s just good to look like myself again.”

A home from home

“It’s been good to have my own room and ensuite, and it is quiet here. You can have visitors at any time you want, and everyone has come to see me here. My two sisters, Lesley and Steph, have been able to come and see me. My good school friends, Steven and Chris, have also been down to visit a lot in the evenings.”

“We’ve got plans to have an Indian takeaway on Friday night, with my friends Chris and Steven, so it’s good just to spend time together.”

“I’m working with the physiotherapists and occupational therapists to help with my mobility, so that I can find ways to move around and hopefully get ready to go home soon.”

Returning home

“Our plan is to get me out of the Hospice and home, better than when I came in. So I can go home and do the things I want to do – hopefully, going for walks with my dog Molly again.”

“To anyone who feels worried about coming to a Hospice, I would say, there is nothing to worry about. The nurses and doctors will help you out as much as they can. If you’re coming in for respite care or symptom management, the care will be good. Just don’t worry about it.”

– Allen

Back to stories