We spoke to animal lover, Lesley Carrington, 71, from Hillingdon, who has been staying at our inpatient Unit. Here, Lesley, in her own words, shares her journey with us.
“My life was going wonderfully. I had my horses, my dogs, cats, rabbits, and my guinea pigs, my whole world was my animals. I didn’t live for anything else really, only my pets. That’s why I worked really, to keep them. It sounds silly but that was my life.
“Then when I was 68, I started to feel quite unwell. I didn’t feel myself at all. I had been relatively healthy all my life, so I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. I kept saying to a friend, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’ I kept having ‘funny turns.’ So, my partner John took me to Hillingdon Hospital as he was concerned. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me at the time, and kept sending me back home, but on the third time of visiting, they noticed I had a yellow colour to my skin. I went for a scan, and a large mass was found. It turned out that I had cancer of the pancreas.
“I really struggled managing my condition. I had a Whipple operation (a surgical procedure to remove cancerous tumours from the pancreas) to remove part of my stomach and was supposed to be in and out in eight days but ended up in hospital for four months. I was so down it almost got to the point that I wanted to jump out of the window.
“After the operation, I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t eat sitting down, standing up, it was so painful. My stomach swelled up so big. I really was in pain when I ate. It wasn’t much fun at all.
“Then in 2018, I started Chemotherapy, it just didn’t make me well at all. A horrible experience. My body just couldn’t take it. It was a real battle.
“Before being referred to Michael Sobell House, I just wasn’t eating, I’d lost around four stone and was painfully thin, and was in complete agony with pain much of the time. My partner John was climbing the wall not knowing what to do.
“It was then that my palliative care nurse suggested Michael Sobell House. Well, I didn’t want to go “in there” as no one came out in my mind. I said to myself, I don’t know how long I’ve got but I’m not ready to die yet! Anyway, my nurse, talked John and I into it, and I came to the Hospice in January 2021 for 12 days. Basically, I came out a new woman – even John said so!
“It was so funny, while I was in here it was my birthday. Lying in bed, I could hear hooves outside my window, and then I saw Jo (Hospice nurse) with ‘Rafa’ the horse at my window, such a beautiful birthday surprise. Just to touch him and smell him, just to have that warmth on my hands was so magical.
“I went home a new woman”
“I felt great after 12 days of treatment, as I said, like a new woman, so went home, but then suddenly, I didn’t feel myself again and suffered the same pain, which doubled me up. I was in agony with stomach pain. It was found that the cancer had spread to my liver. I was therefore referred back to receive further treatment at Michael Sobell.
“I would recommend the Hospice to anyone. The treatment and care I’ve received here is incredible. Those special touches like seeing Rafa has made me feel so much more like my old self. The Hospice team is marvellous. You can’t fault any of them. They are totally dedicated to their work.
“There’s really nothing to be frightened of coming to Michael Sobell Hospice. It certainly has done me the world of good.”