John’s story

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“St Clare has helped me to feel able to communicate with people better, to ask them how they are and to relate to them. The groups bring a lot of joy to a lot of people – I’ve seen it. We enjoy it, and look forward to coming.”

“When the nurse at my chemotherapy clinic asked if I knew of a hospice near to where I live, my first thought was that she must’ve thought I only had a week to live!”

“I’m a local person – I knew of St Clare and had seen it out and about in the local community. However, I didn’t understand it. I thought it was somewhere that you only went to die.”

“Back then, in March 2018, I didn’t realise that there was so much more to hospices than I could have imagined…”

“When I was diagnosed in 2016, I thought that I would just get through it, and I would be one of the ‘survivors’. The last place I would have thought of to access support was St Clare Hospice.”

“I’d had lots of treatments for the cancer, including major surgery and chemotherapy. I thought that everything was going to be fine, and I threw myself back into work because I was going to be a ‘cancer survivor’.”

“I resumed my life. I was a business man – working from 6am ‘til 10pm and always on the go. My wife and I would travel around the world, booking holidays, getting back, and off to work again!”

“I was still going for my check-ups and it seemed like everything was alright, until I found that the cancer had returned. When I received the news, it seemed like everything I had gone through had been unsuccessful – I was at rock bottom. I felt like the cancer was beating me, and I hadn’t beat the cancer.”

“I had to go back on to chemotherapy, which is where I was picked up by the nurse at the clinic. At first I didn’t want to talk about hospices, but when she explained to me that St Clare offered many different avenues of care and support, right from the point of diagnosis, I started to be more open to the idea of coming to St Clare.”

“She said that St Clare had a Day Therapy service, where people similar to me could come and meet others to talk about our illnesses and what we were going through. I agreed to give it a go, and she kindly arranged an appointment for me to come and visit St Clare.”

“Now I look back, I can see that coming to St Clare happened at the right time for me. I didn’t know how long I would have to live, and I had already experienced ‘rock bottom’. So, I knew it was time to try and enjoy every day, and enjoy my life through the smallest things – not the ‘biggest’ things.”

“My illness has completely changed my perspective on life. Before, I didn’t have the balance of enjoying my life, and I feel like I missed out on so much because I was so busy.”

“Receiving a diagnosis like mine forces you into a position to be able to think, ‘what am I doing all of this for?’ I know I haven’t wasted my life, but the balance was off.”

“I realised that real life is being able to communicate with each other, or trying to make someone smile. That is priceless. I opened my eyes to all those things, and now there is a whole chapter of my life I didn’t realise I had. It’s so strange.”

“So, in August 2018, I had my first appointment at St Clare. They recommended that I come along to their Day Therapy group, where they had an all-day session just for men.”

“When I first stepped into the hospice, I noticed that it was very relaxed and tranquil. I felt a wonderful feeling of ease, which made me feel like a weight had been lifted. I just felt tranquillity and support.”

“On my first day, I was introduced to the men’s group as a new person. I relaxed really quickly into the group. The other members spoke to me like I was anybody, because in a place like this it doesn’t matter who you are – we’re all in the same situation.”

“We’ve all got chronic illnesses; we’ve got our moans to groan! Yet, it genuinely allows us to be able to communicate with each other.”

“I would describe Day Therapy as a sort of ‘chat therapy’ session, to be perfectly frank! Jane, our group facilitator, will guide the group and choose individual topics for us to discuss. It’s so interesting, how they open your thoughts in your brain – it completely takes you away from the current problems that you are having.”

“You get to know people, and find out about their views and experiences in life. You get to communicate within an environment you wouldn’t get at home.”

“In your normal life, you’re the only one that is ill, but at St Clare everything is normalised because everyone around you knows what you’re experiencing too.”

“You can relate to people when you come to Day Therapy. You associate with them and it makes you feel better in your soul, I suppose.”

“When you become ill, it can be difficult to be the person you once were. You can’t do certain things anymore, but coming to St Clare gives you a break from your weekly routine and allows you to feel equal, or on top of your game, rather than focusing on the things you can’t do.”

“You see people who appear more ill than you, or less ill than you, and it helps you to cope with your own symptoms better. It uplifts everybody.”

“There’s a lot of joking at the men’s group. And a lot of humour that makes everyone laugh, which is really lovely. I think it’s mainly just about being able to communicate with people who are on the same level as you, and it helps everyone – you listen to others and they listen to you, so you get that balance of helping each other.”

“I try to bring my positive perspective on my life to the groups at St Clare, so that others can feel it too.”

“I do believe that there is a richness to be acknowledged from illnesses, because it does give you a totally different outlook on life and society.”

“I’ve found myself valuing the smaller things in life much more than I used to, and I avoid confrontation because you just don’t need it!”

“When you receive a diagnosis, you realise how precious life is, and how perhaps you have ploughed through life without realising the real joys of it all. They can be the smallest things, which can’t be bought with money or anything like that.”

“Quite often we miss those moments. My illness has taught me to live for today and enjoy today. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but you can be happy today. Today is not going to be a day you’ve lost – so why lose it by being miserable, when you can be happy? There’s always something nice to find – even when it’s just looking out of the window.”

“St Clare has helped me to feel able to communicate with people better, to ask them how they are, and to relate to them. The groups bring a lot of joy to a lot of people – I’ve seen it. We enjoy it, and look forward to coming.”

“The staff at St Clare have all been fantastic. During the day, we have one-to-one sessions with a nurse who helps to talk through your symptoms and how we’re feeling more thoroughly. You tell them what’s on your mind, and they offer you support and advice – which can sometimes be really hard to find elsewhere. That one-to-one reflection is so important – the combination of that with the group sessions makes the whole thing work.”

“A place like St Clare, that enables people to feel jovial and enjoy each day, is hard to find in your final chapters of life. It just makes everything more tolerable, and I would recommend anyone who needs support to get involved.”

“I wake up every morning with a smile on my face now, and I never used to do that.”

“I think St Clare brings out the goodness in people. There’s good in everybody, and St Clare helps people to see it all. It helps you to be a better person.”

– John

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