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“St Clare has been an absolute Godsend. I tell everybody about all the different things they do at St Clare’s – and that it is all about helping you to live.”

“I first came in to contact with St Clare when my Macmillan nurse suggested that I come in for the Day Therapy group sessions.”

“I had been diagnosed with Cancer in April 2017 and was told that I had stage 4 bowel and ovarian cancer. They tired a couple of rounds of Chemotherapy but it wasn’t effective and, in fact, nearly killed me, so we decided to stop. Since then, it has been all about being positive and keeping going.”

“I am a great believer in being positive. I think that if you can remain positive, it makes a really big difference.”

“It was in the Spring of 2018 and the Macmillan team were coming in to see me at home. The team were great and really helped with lots of things – like getting bannisters put down the stairs and a seat to go across the bath. They were really helpful. It was my Macmillan nurse who suggested that I come to St Clare for the Day Therapy group sessions.”

“I had been virtually in bed for almost a year, and had been so sick. I had lost lots of weight and I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and do something! So it was wonderful for me to come to St Clare.”

“I started coming along to the Day Therapy sessions and one of the first activities was a creative session where I started dabbling with the paints. My first drawing, I must confess, was pretty awful! But it made me decide to get my own paints out when I got home, and to give painting a go again. I got home and was sitting with my watercolours trying to think of something to paint. I think everybody has something they can do. My sister suggested that I started painting flowers so I got a book out and started copying the flowers. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it! It is such a good way of relaxing.”

“When you come to St Clare, you talk to people about things that you can’t, or don’t want to, talk to your family about. You get really involved in things, and you can really let yourself go.”

“I love coming down to the Hospice on a Thursday to the Day Therapy group. It gets my brain going! It has opened up so many things for me, it really has. It certainly got me back into painting too. Now my friends and family are always requesting that I do flower paintings for them, I have so many requests!”

“You can have deep discussions about life and death here – or, you can just have a laugh!”

“I love coming to St Clare. They even do complementary therapies and I have had reflexology on my feet, and that has been wonderful because I lost a lot of feeling in my feet through Chemotherapy. After having reflexology I find that I have more movement in my feet and it helps me to walk a lot better. There are just so many things St Clare can do for you – and it all helps.”

“Coming to St Clare helps to enhance my life. When it is time to go home I say ‘you will have me dancing out of here one day!’”

“Coming to St Clare also means that my husband has a break as well, and when I am at the Hospice he can do what he wants. He is my carer and so he needs a bit of time away from my nagging! My husband drops me off at St Clare and knows that I am safe here, he doesn’t have to worry about me. It’s also meant that he has met some other carers and spouses when he drops me off, and they have formed a sort of informal support group. Even just chatting, and passing on tips – like how to apply for a disability card – is really helpful for the carers.”

“St Clare has been an absolute Godsend. I tell everybody about all the different things they do at St Clare’s – and that it is all about helping you to live.”

“We always finish the group sessions with a relaxation exercise at the end of the day, which is good. When I have trouble sleeping at home I think of the relaxation techniques, and it helps me get through it. I take so much of what we do and talk about home with me – including the painting. I can just sit at home and paint which is so lovely – it definitely gives me a bit of a release.”

“It is lovely at St Clare, but I think a lot of people – including myself in the past – hear the word Hospice and think ‘That’s it. You go in there and you are not coming out.” But it’s not like that at all.”

“I have also been to the Hospice as an inpatient. I was having a lot of problems with my medication and so I came in to stay for a week while they assessed and changed my medication. Again, it taught me that the Hospice is not just about death. It is about lots of other things too. They got my medication sorted out, and got me back on track again. St Clare’s is just fantastic.”

“It is so peaceful when you stay on the Inpatient Unit. All the staff are so on the ball, but they let me have my independence as well. I was still getting up and showering myself – I still want to hang on to those things that I can do for myself. But the staff and volunteers were always asking if there was anything they could do for me.”

“It is so lovely staying at St Clare’s. You can look out in to the gardens, which are beautiful, and I love to watch the rabbits and the birds. When it does come to the end, St Clare’s is where I want to be – in such peaceful surroundings.”

“I have put all the plans in place for the end of my life. I have been able to decide what type of care I want, and have arranged and paid for my funeral, and sorted the service out. It means that I have chosen everything that I want – and it is nobody else’s headache. It has actually taken such a weight off me, by arranging everything. And planning my funeral was a bit of a laugh! I have said that I want all the funeral directors to wear pink cravats – and if they are wicked, I will make them wear pink wigs as well! I found a lot of relief by planning everything myself. I would probably not be in this position of having everything planned for the end of my life, if I had not been to St Clare’s.”

“I want to come to St Clare when it is my time, and I have made those plans for the end of my life. But until then, St Clare can help me with so many other things, here and now.”

“I had only been coming to St Clare for Day Therapy for two weeks, when I decided to do a fundraising event for the hospice. Even after such a short time I knew how special the Hospice was and wanted to do something to give back to St Clare.”

“The idea for the fundraiser came about because of my 4-year-old grandson, William. He was really struggling to deal with the fact that I had lost my hair, and had become completely bald. My son was trying to come up with an idea to help my grandson to deal with my lack of hair, and because it was near Easter, he suggested that he should decorate my head to look like an Easter egg!”

“So that’s what they did – it all snowballed from that idea! They called the fundraiser ‘The Human Easter Egg’ and within just two weeks we had organised this massive fundraiser in April 2018. So many people got behind us – it was unbelievable.”

“I literally became a human Easter egg! It wasn’t just me doing it – other people wore swimming caps on their heads too – and we let the kids coat our heads in chocolate spread and then cover our heads with sweets!”

“It was hysterical! I was sitting there all covered in chocolate, with sweets slowly running down my nose! It was a real laugh.”

“The support from everyone in the community was so good. The vicar of St Winifred’s in Chigwell let us hold the event in the hall for free. People did raffles, sold cakes and there was food – considering we only had two weeks to organise it, it was really good. We raised £1,400 for St Clare from the event and we have said we will do it every year from now on!”

“Everything at St Clare has been so good – I would not have changed it for anything. It was the best thing that the Macmillan nurses suggested, that I come to St Clare.”

“When you talk to the other people who come to St Clare, they all say that they love it. I have thoroughly enjoyed being with all the people that I have met in the Day Therapy group – and just coming down to the Hospice has been really great.”

“When my Day Therapy group sessions come to an end I will still be able to come back for some of the ‘drop in’ sessions. There is a café on a Friday, and other creative and physiotherapy groups – so I know that everyone at St Clare will be there beside me and supporting me on my whole journey.”

– Wendy

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