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Alan’s Story

"The constant care Laura got made such a difference to all the family."

Laura Nettleship from Staveley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Whilst receiving reconstruction treatment in 2012, she was told the devastating news that the cancer had spread to her liver. Despite the news, Laura went on to organise her wedding to her long term partner Matt. They married in December 2012.

Her father Alan says: “Laura picked up whilst organising the wedding and looked fantastic on the day. She was the last up dancing on the night.” As Laura’s health deteriorated, she was admitted to Ashgate Hospicecare where she spent her last few days. She died in July 2013, aged just 29. Recalling his experience of the hospice, Alan adds: “It was like going to a little hotel, nothing was too much trouble. Laura had a lovely room which had a patio with tables and chairs and her bed could be pushed outside if she wanted. The constant care Laura got made such a difference to all the family. “Laura didn’t have much of an appetite, but did enjoy ice pops which were always on hand. A bed was put in her room so Matt or her Mum Ann could stay overnight with her. Tea, coffee and sandwiches were always available whenever we needed them. “Laura was a Mummy, everything she did was centred around her two boys. When visiting their Mummy, the boys played football outside on the grass. No one batted an eyelid, whatever time we visited.” Since Laura’s death, her family and friends have been raising money for Ashgate Hospicecare. A Tribute Fund has been set up in Laura’s name into which all money raised or donated will go. Every penny will be used for the continuing care of patients and their families across North Derbyshire.

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Joanne

Joanne’s Story

"I’m glad I’ve had the support from the hospice"

Joanne Turley, 61, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Having had a mastectomy and undergone surgery to remove the lymph nodes in her armpits, Joanne beat the cancer but unfortunately developed Lymphoedema as a result of the illness. Lymphoedema, a chronic condition caused by problems with the lymphatic system that results in swelling in the body's tissues, can often be a side effect resulting from operations to treat cancer. Joanne shares her story on developing the condition and how the team at Ashgate Hospicecare helped reduce her swelling.

Joanne says: “When you get diagnosed with cancer, you get given so much information that it’s impossible to register all of it. When I had my lymph nodes removed, my local hospital told me to limit any physical activity as I was at risk of developing Lymphoedema. But because I didn’t see a lot of people at the clinic wearing sleeves, personally it didn’t register with me that it could be a problem. I’m a keen gardener and I wanted to continue doing what I loved, so I didn’t stop the physical activity like I was supposed to. I should have been a lot more aware of the symptoms of Lymphoedema but I wasn’t paying attention.

“I was getting ready for bed one night after a day of gardening and suddenly noticed that my fingers and my right hand were completely swollen. That was the start of it. Things moved very quickly after that and I was seen by the Lymphoedema team at the hospital the following week. It’s only my right arm that’s affected so they got me some compression sleeves to help the swelling.

“When I first found out that I had Lymphoedema, I was cross with myself because I know I overdid it. Having had it happen, I stop now and think ‘I shouldn’t be lifting this’ which stops me from overdoing it. But once you’ve had cancer you’re at risk of Lymphoedema for the rest of your life. You won’t always get it straight away; I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 but didn’t develop Lymphoedema until 2013. But I’ve accepted that I have to live with it.

“When I moved from Salford to Chesterfield, I was referred to Ashgate Hospicecare’s Lymphoedema team. Everyone at the hospice is so great – it’s a lovely, friendly place. I love it. I don’t go to the hospice for end-of-life care but I’m not treated any differently to those that do. I’ve been coming for 18 months and with trial and error we’ve finally found a sleeve that is comfortable and thankfully the swelling of my arm has shrunk and shrunk.”

Although the swelling in Joanne’s right arm has significantly decreased since visiting the hospice, Joanne has had to make several adjustments as a result of the condition.

“I find it difficult to find clothes that fit and are comfortable. I want to wear clothes that cover my sleeve, because people stare sometimes. I just ignore it, but for some people it could be quite offensive. It’s like if you choose not to wear a wig when you’ve had chemotherapy and you wear a headscarf instead. You suddenly become aware that everybody’s looking at you. So I like to wear clothes that cover my sleeve but even that can be a problem. The other day I tried on a really nice top in Marks and Spencer but the sleeve wasn’t big enough, and my arm is a lot smaller now than it was before! You find yourself going for bigger sizes, but then it just looks wrong.

“I automatically carry my bag on my right shoulder too, so when I carry it on my left it just doesn’t feel right. It’s like if you’re right handed and you suddenly have to start using your left hand – it off balances you. Its silly things like that that you don’t realise have a big impact. Or I’ll go to grab something that might be heavy and I have to remind myself ‘Hold on, I can’t lift that. I’ve got to get somebody to help me.’ It’s not good. But I’m glad I’ve had the support from the hospice to help me find a sleeve that fits properly and works for me.”

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Louise’s Story

"I love going to my appointments as we have a good laugh and I always come out feeling positive"

Louise Mallender, 35, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2013. Having undergone chemotherapy and a lumpectomy, Louise found out that she had the BRCA1 gene, a gene that would increase her risk of developing breast cancer in the future. It was then that Louise developed Lymphoedema, a condition that can often occur after operations to treat cancer that result in swelling of the body’s tissues.

Louise says, “When I found out that I had the BRCA1 gene, I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. Getting breast cancer in the first place was a complete shock and totally out of the blue. Not only that, my hand and arm started swelling which I soon found out was Lymphoedema. I know it sounds silly after everything I had been through, but I was so sad that I couldn’t wear my wedding rings anymore because they wouldn’t fit on my finger. My local hospital referred me to Ashgate Hospicecare’s Lymphoedema team and they were fantastic. For around a year they gave me advice and showed me different techniques to help reduce the swelling. My hand and arm finally reduced to a level where I could put my rings back on and I felt like me again. I felt normal again.

“Unfortunately the caner returned 6 months later and so the journey started all over again. There was more chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a further operation to remove my ovaries. I went back to Ashgate and the team continued to give me fantastic advice and support. I love going to my appointments as we have a good laugh and I always come out feeling positive.

“I am now free of cancer again and I’m ready to get my life back on track.”

Louise Mallender
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John’s Story

"Margaret was given the greatest care possible from everyone during her time there, so I want to give something back to show my appreciation.”

John Thompson from Clay Cross has been a well-loved volunteer at Ashgate Hospicecare since May 2014. He works within a small team who take care of the hospice’s picturesque gardens 365 days a year – come rain or shine. John shares his experience of Ashgate and why he decided to volunteer for the hospice."

John says, “My wife Margaret spent the last five weeks of her life at Ashgate Hospice. She had bowel cancer. Sadly, she died at the hospice at the age of 66 on 9th November 2011 and I still miss her every day.” Margaret was admitted to the hospice’s Inpatient Unit to help manage her symptoms and to keep her pain under control. To this day, John is still grateful for the level of care Margaret received during her time on the ward. “Four years later, I still remember the care and kindness given by the doctors and nurses. It was exemplary. Other members of staff and the volunteers on the ward were very considerate as well. She enjoyed a tipple every so often and it was never a problem – they would get her whatever she wanted. “I have been a gardening volunteer for over a year now and it’s my way of saying thank you to the hospice. Margaret was given the greatest care possible from everyone during her time there, so I want to give something back to show my appreciation.” To pay tribute to his wife, John has dedicated a rose and plaque to Margaret in the hospice’s garden that he can visit when he’s working. John says, “Margaret used to collect teddy bears – she loved them! So of course the plaque had to have a teddy bear on it! The memorial is very special to me and I’m lucky that I get to see it every time I’m out volunteering in the garden.”

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Jenny’s Story

“It’s just a fantastic service. I can’t praise Ashgate enough. It’s not a service – it’s a friendship.”

Jenny Hawkins, aged 57 from North Wingfield, attends Ashgate Hospicecare’s Day Hospice once a week. She is also seen by Ashgate’s nurses for swollen legs and feet caused by lymphodema. Jenny shares her journey with lymphoedema and the care provided by Ashgate Hospicecare nurses to help her with the condition.

“I contracted a very rare lung disease which there’s no cure for and they don’t know the cause, so they thought that the hospice would be a good place to get me out, be in company but at the same time have fantastic care. I have deteriorated and now it has got to the stage of palliative care.

“In this latter 6 months or so, I’ve really suffered with oedema. I tried taking water tablets, but nothing worked. I was getting very severe tightening of the legs and the swelling was horrible. My legs expanded - doubling near enough. My feet doubled in size as well. I felt as if they were going to explode they got that tight that to even put my feet on the floor to transfer from chair to wheelchair was agony.

“I had been told I was unsuitable for compression stockings in the past to help managed the swelling. However I was re-tested at Ashgate and thankfully I was in the area for compression stockings.

“I was elated when I received the news and within ten minutes of them doing the tests, they disappeared and came back with a pair of stockings, got them on, made a prescription and measured my legs for the made to measure stockings. The following week they were delivered and I have them now made to measure for my legs and they’re brilliant there no discomfort with them.

“It’s been amazing. The relief of having the compression stockings on and the nurses putting them on for me they’ve made sure I’ve got the proper moisturisation for my legs, for my feet; every part of care that lymphoedema can do has been dealt with here at Ashgate and I honestly can’t praise them enough.

“Before treatment, cosmetically, I felt awful. I didn’t want people to see the state of my legs so the loose fitting trousers just covered them, but now hopefully the weathers changing now were getting to the source of this ill be back in my skirts soon.

“When I go out now, I can get shoes back on I don’t feel silly going shopping in slippers and it’s given me some life back that I thought I’d lost. I felt awful about wearing slippers all the time. I’m not old, but it made me feel very old so it’s nice to be able to get shoes on again. For my husband to say “I’ll get your shoes” those words make a big difference.

“My right leg is more or less back to normal just through compression and the left leg has gone down a good third so it is fantastic. I’m back in the same shoes again now too. I thought id have to go up a size just to get that bit of extra room. Fortunately I didn’t buy any bigger sizes because it would have been a waste of money and I can get back in my nice ones.”

Jenny also talks about the overall care she has received at the Day Hospice.

“Coming to the Day Hospice my husband and daughter get a break and I’ve made lovely friends. I can chat, I can craft, I can play bingo; whatever activities are going and I’ve got something to have a conversation about when I get home. I’d be otherwise in the four walls and I’ve got nothing to talk about, but when I go home from the Day Hospice I tell them what I’ve done, who I’ve been talking to, the conversations we’ve had if we’ve had a laugh and a joke and it even brightens my husband and daughter as they know I’m well cared for whilst I’m here.

“It’s just a fantastic service. I can’t praise Ashgate enough. It’s not a service – it’s a friendship.”

One Ashgate Patient
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We provide out-patient clinics at Ashgate Hospicecare and Blythe House Day Hospice in Chapel-en-le-Frith and patients are also seen in the Inpatient Unit, Day Hospice and at home.

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Vicky

Vicky’s Story

"Ashgate Hospicecare really is an amazing place and they made such a difference to everyone in the family.”

Brian, from Shuttlewood, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2013 that he found out that the cancer had spread to his bowel and spine.

Vicky told us about how Brain was coping with the condition; “He was at home, but it was horrendous. The pain he was experiencing was excruciating and he eventually couldn’t walk. He had to lie completely flat all the time and was getting a lot of bed sores. Eventually, it was decided that he needed to go to Ashgate Hospicecare, but he really didn’t want to go.”

Vicky added, “Two hours after going into the Hospice, everything changed. He was uplifted. We were relieved he went to Ashgate. They sorted out all of his medication so he wasn’t in so much pain like he was before. He started to get back to himself, ringing people up, making them laugh. It made such a difference to him and the family.

“The nurses turned him every 2 hours and washed him, so his bed sores were less of a problem. It was like a holiday centre to him. He loved it.”

Previous to Brian going to the Hospice, the family were not aware that he was terminally ill.

Vicky said, “Noone ever said anything to us that it was terminal. It wasn’t until we got to Ashgate that we were told. They sat us down in a room and actually had the time to talk to us. They were open and honest with us about what was going off. We were so angry that noone had said anything before and were honest with us. With Ashgate Hospicecare’s nurses talking to us like they did, it made us feel trustworthy to them and we were all of a sudden more relaxed, not thinking ‘what’s going off now?’ If anything changed with dad whilst he was in the Hospice, the nurses were on the phone to us straight away. With the family being more relaxed and in the know to what was happening and what was going to happen, it meant dad was more relaxed in himself and that made him feel better.”

Brian was a farmer, so was particularly used to being outside in the fresh air. Many are surprised that when at the hospice, patients are able to go outside, even if they cannot get out themselves.

Vicky added, “They took him outside in his bed and we took the dog to visit him, which meant the world to him as he really loved the dog. He felt normality for the first time in a long while and he needed that normality.”

Brian died at Ashgate Hospicecare in 2013 aged 78. Vicky particularly remembers the detail and care taken up until his death, especially as he liked being outside.

Vicky said, “When he died, all the curtains to his room were open and the sun was shining. It was a surreal moment for us all and it’s what he would have wanted. It made the experience more bearable and I’ll never forget it.”

Vicky was a lot younger when her grandfather died around 20 years ago, but even to this day, she can remember the moment when he died.

Vicky said, “When my grandfather died, the nurses put a red rose in his hands. It was a truly poignant moment that I will never forget. Ashgate Hospicecare really is an amazing place and they made such a different to everyone in the family.”

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Bill’s Story

Bill Story

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Matt’s Story

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Ian’s Story

"The support worker would arrive with a ready smile and gave Maggie someone different to talk to apart from me. It also helped me as I could have some free time for an hour or two as I knew there was someone there to hold Maggie’s hand."

Ashgate Hospicecare brings you it's 9th #SeptemberStory from Ian Taylor who shares his experience of the care provided by Ashgate Hospicecare to his wife, Maggie.

Maggie Walster-Taylor was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2013. Already a sufferer of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an MRI scan showed that the cancer had spread to her ribs, lungs, spine and pelvic bones. Maggie died at home on 9th January 2014, aged just 58. Her husband, Ian Taylor, shares his story and explains how Ashgate Hospicecare helped him in the lead up and following Maggie’s death.

Ian says, “Within a few days of Maggie being diagnosed, we were contacted by Ashgate Hospicecare. A month later, Maggie was confined to her bed and it was at this stage that the hospice really became involved. Frequent phone calls were received to ascertain whether she wanted anything. From day one Maggie had insisted that she wanted to die at home, so when a bed became available on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit and was offered to her, she politely declined.

“The Hospice at Home team became more involved with frequent visits which Maggie came to look forward to. The support worker would arrive with a ready smile and gave Maggie someone different to talk to apart from me. It also helped me as I could have some free time for an hour or two as I knew there was someone there to hold Maggie’s hand. It gave me the opportunity to do the shopping, although the team had offered to do it for me if I wanted. She was being cared for and I was being supported.

“These few examples of practical help were far outweighed by the emotional support they gave me. I knew the team were only a phone call away and in between their visits they would phone me too.

“After Maggie’s death, Ashgate began focusing their time on me. They introduced me to a Group Bereavement course at the hospice and within a short period of time we all gave tremendous support to each other. We gave ourselves permission to laugh again, which at the time I didn’t think I’d be able to do. At the end of the 6 week course, we had developed a strong bond of friendship knowing we were there for each other.

“After the group support, I personally felt that I needed individual counselling. The Patient and Family Support Team organised weekly sessions for me which they said could continue as long as I needed them for. When all of that came to an end, I was concerned that that would be the final ending but thankfully we have an ongoing weekly social group called ‘Ashfellows’ that continues the support. There are always lots of people chatting and laughing over tea and biscuits so it’s a lot of fun!”

Ian
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Sally’s Story

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Alexandra’s Story

“I didn’t realise at the time but without Ashgate, I’d have gone away with my grief and who knows how I would have dealt with it.”

Alexandra Wright first heard about Ashgate Hospicecare from her doctor following the death of her sister. Within two weeks of one sister dying, she found out that her other sister Ruth had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Alexandra said, “I started getting quite depressed and was suffering from severe anxiety attacks. It was really scary and quite overwhelming. I was finding it very difficult to cope so my doctor referred me to the hospice. I brought my older sister Lynn along and we both saw Tracey from the Patient and Family Support team who decided that we could do with some support from the hospice. They helped me out of a really dark place and the nice thing is that when my sister died the support carried on.

“She would say: ‘Look, if you find yourself in that dark place again, I’m only a phone call away!’ I can’t tell you how lovely and reassuring those words were. It wasn’t just ‘That’s it – done. Goodbye’ and it’s really, really important that families know that. They need to know that support is there to help them through a dreadful time. Ashgate helped me to accept what was happening and to come to terms with it. It’s important that people know that Ashgate isn’t just a ward – there are other things they offer too.

“There are so many myths about hospice care that stopped Ruth from wanting to go to Ashgate. It’s such a shame because we desperately wanted her to go to the hospice and have her final days where she was going to be looked after and treated with respect. I want to help dispel some of the myths and fears because the hospice would have made such a difference and been a lot better for Ruth.

“I didn’t realise at the time but without Ashgate, I’d have gone away with my grief and who knows how I would have dealt with it.”

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Laura’s Story

“I don’t know where we would have been without Ashgate – it probably would have been a nightmare."

Richard Harrison, 51, from Walton was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2014. After having his pancreas removed and being given the all clear, the cancer returned in April 2015 and Richard was told it was terminal.his daughter Laura, shares her story on the care her dad received from Ashgate Hospicecare.

Laura says, “Dad wanted to stay at home so my brother Ross and I were looking after him but it was getting a bit too much for us. My mum and dad had split up so we were the only people who could look after him, so I took 3 months off work whilst Ross kept working. We were so tired so we ended up getting my uncle and auntie to come and stay with us, but other times we would ring them up at 2am saying ‘I don’t know what to do!’ Dad was diabetic because he had his pancreas and spleen taken out so we were trying to get the level of insulin right, but with his tablets as well, it was a lot to take on. He wasn’t willing to do it himself and I don’t like needles so Ross had to do it. But he kept saying ‘I don’t want to inject him in the wrong place’, so we really needed a trained person to do it for us.

“That’s when Judith, the Community Nurse Specialist from Ashgate Hospicecare, started visiting us. Our GP put us in touch with the hospice and after that Judith and one of the Occupational Therapists, Dawn, came to visit us and started helping us out. Dawn got dad a specialist hospice bed and brought rails for the bathroom. At first, dad would say ‘I don’t need any of that’ but one night something clicked and he decided that he wanted to go to the hospice.

“We always knew about Ashgate because my dad was a chef and he did the catering for their ‘Midnight Walk’ event and charity balls for a couple of years. But at first I didn’t want to go to the hospice because I hate hospitals, but when I went I liked it! When we first brought dad in, we had to say ‘It’s only for a couple of days’ but after a few days he said ‘Are they going to make me go home?’ – meaning that he wanted to stay! In the end, he enjoyed being at the hospice more than he did at home!

“Dad felt a lot better when he went to Ashgate because they sorted his medication out and put him on stronger painkillers. The nurses and volunteers were lovely too – they would sit and chat with us and they even sang him ‘Happy Birthday’ on his birthday! The nurses cater to each specific person and will talk and get to know the person. It’s a lot more personal than what we’d have gotten in hospital. Dad definitely had a better quality of life at the hospice and was more settled and relaxed!”

Sadly, Richard died at Ashgate Hospicecare on 11th July 2015, just 2 weeks after he was first admitted.

Laura adds, “I don’t know where we would have been without Ashgate – it probably would have been a nightmare. We couldn’t have done the last few weeks without the hospice which is why we’re fundraising for them as much as we can. A team of our close friends and family recently took part in their ‘Woofs and Wellies’ event and we managed to raise nearly £2,000! We’re going to continue fundraising and have already said we’re going to take part in Woofs and Wellies every year!”

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Amy’s Story

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Karen’s Story

"When you experience the love and care that Ashgate provides, it’s very difficult to turn your back and walk away.”

Julie Colton was admitted to Ashgate Hospicecare in September 2014 as the symptoms from her brain tumour were becoming too difficult to control. She spent the last 4 months of her life on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit before she sadly died on 21st January 2015.

Her sister, Karen Simpson, says “I wanted to share my experience of Ashgate Hospicecare because it became such a big part of my family’s life for such a long time. During those 4 months Julie was on the ward, she made a huge impression on all of the staff with her whit and strength of character. But for us, knowing that she was cared for and that they could control her symptoms gave us the peace of mind we so desperately longed for.

“At Christmas, Julie was determined to come home and spend Christmas Day with the family like we always had. It wasn’t unusual for 20 of us to gather and have Christmas dinner together. However, because Julie was so desperately poorly it was obvious that she wasn’t well enough to return home. So one of the lovely doctors suggested ‘If you can’t go to them then why don’t we bring Christmas to you!’ So that’s what we all did. The day room became our own with family and friends surrounding Julie’s bed. It was incredibly emotional and a very precious memory that will stay with us for a very long time.

“Julie passed away 3 days before my niece Ruby had organised a Winter Walk to raise some much needed funds for the hospice. The walk exceeded everyone’s expectations and the total is still rising. So far we have raised over £13,000 with donations collected from different events all pooled together in Julie’s memory. When you experience the love and care that Ashgate provides, it’s very difficult to turn your back and walk away."

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