Georgina has breast cancer. After five years in remission, she found out in April that it had returned.
As a determined person, she is refusing to sit back and let cancer win. However, a few months ago, an infection in her legs affected her mobility so much that she became bed bound. She remembers: “It had a significant impact on my quality of life. I am a positive person, but I was starting to think that the cancer is winning.”
At this point Georgina’s district nurse recommended that she goes to St Leonard’s specialist in-patient unit for support with symptom control. When she first heard the word Hospice, she admitted she was scared. “My immediate thought is it’s where people go to die but when it was explained to me that the Hospice could support me with my mobility I agreed,” she says.
Georgina arrived at the Hospice with the goal of being able to walk from her bed to the toilet by the time she left. Thanks to the support of the Hospice’s multi-disciplinary team including nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational health therapists, she took baby steps towards achieving this goal and is now mobile and back at home with her husband, two daughters and mini daschund, Martha.
Speaking about her time at the Hospice she says: “It is not a scary place at all. The care is so good. Nothing was too much trouble and every question I asked, they answered without judgment. They also gave me the time to talk which was beneficial.
“There were a few days where I was poorly with an infection, and it was great to be able to stay for treatment rather than face the disruption of having to go to hospital. By that time, I had built up such a good rapport with the doctors and nurses.
“I remember one time after a treatment on my feet, they asked me what my drink of choice would be. I said a gin and tonic. The next thing I knew one appeared!
“I also loved using the VR headset which really calmed me and helped with my breathing. If ever I felt anxious, I would put it on and be transported to a beach, sat on the sand, listening to the waves.”
Whilst staying at the Hospice, Georgina celebrated her 12th wedding anniversary. “It was a wonderful day. My girlfriends came in the afternoon with a picnic and party hats then my husband was able to stay over with me. We enjoyed a takeaway, and the catering team surprised us with a cake!
“It was lovely to feel like my life was carrying on as normal. My daughters came to visit, along with Martha, and were made to feel so welcome. My best friend came to stay with me one night. The team even supported me in going across the road to Tesco, mainly for chocolate but also to get the girls’ school uniforms sorted.”
When the time came for going home, Georgina also felt well supported. “The occupational health therapist at the Hospice visited my home the week before to see what needed to be put in place and coordinated my care with the district nurse.
“I was also impressed with the support I received prior to being admitted, with the Hospice@Home team caring for me while I was waiting to come into St Leonard’s. It is wrap around care from start to finish,” she adds.
Now Georgina is back at home she is focusing on spending quality time with family and friends, including Christmas, birthdays, days out and hopefully a holiday.
She says: “I came to St Leonard’s and the team fixed me. It is certainly not a place anyone should fear. I have started to think about Advanced Care Planning and when the time comes, which I hope is a long way off still, I would like to return to the Hospice.”