Nick Armstrong is living with liver cancer, having been diagnosed towards the end of 2023. As a former skinhead, the 60-year-old is a lover of all things Ska and Reggae, and went to many gigs to see his idols, including The Specials, although he regrets never having got to see The Jam. Bob Marley was “the man”’, he told the team on the Inpatient Unit.
“Getting diagnosed with liver cancer a few months ago completely knocked me for six. I never thought I’d get cancer. Then I started getting this trouble breathing, which was so frightening. I can’t tell you how awful it was.
“That is when St Clare got involved. It turned out I was having panic attacks and couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what St Clare was all about and to be honest, I was quite frightened. I came in for a day meeting with the doctors to see what they could do for me and we decided it would be good if I stayed for a bit so they could get my pain in my stomach and my panic attacks sorted, which they seem to have done so far. I see a psychologist called Tom, to help with my thoughts and also I’ve got some relaxation films that go on the TV and special twinkling lights that I can put on when the panic starts, but it’s not easy to get out of once they start.
“There are plans for me to move into a nursing home soon, but I’d be quite happy to stay here because you have all brought me back from the brink. I never thought I’d make Christmas, and here it is the end of January and I’m here.
“To anyone worried about coming to St Clare I’d say, I was so unsure of what to expect, but from the first minute, I knew that it was right for me. It was just a case of listening. They show you around straight away, they show you everything. They explain everything. They show you the outdoor space and they talk to you. They talk to you with no lies. It’s just beautiful. Just give it a go.”
Nick has spent much of his time in the Inpatient Unit sitting on the patio outside his room, looking out onto the garden.
“I’ve always been an outdoors sort of person, and here I can sit outside and watch the birds and nature. I sit outside for hours and hours taking photos. I’ve been lucky enough to see a blue tit and blackbird, all manner of wildlife, and I’ve been lucky enough to see glimpses of a fox.
“The robin is my favourite and I’ve named him Robin, the robin. The staff took a photo of him for me and framed it so I can have it wherever I move to. I’m so touched by that.
“I couldn’t wish for better. And the staff and the nurses, the doctors, everything had just been so overwhelming. It’s just been a dream come true, really, to be given this chance to be here. I know I haven’t got long left. You’ve got to make the most of each day and I’ve accepted that.”