Sue Jenkin, 72 from Exmouth, used to work as the manager at a residential home for young people with mental health challenges. Being surrounded by 18 to 30 year olds, Sue had an active lifestyle joining in with her residents on activities like abseiling and cycling.
But 10 years ago, after running up a flight of stairs, Sue unexpectedly collapsed and shortly after was diagnosed with a lung condition.
Sue had to give up work and her life was turned on its head. Sue explains,
“I felt like I had been put in a chair and left to die. It was awful, a really difficult time. Earlier this year, my doctor suggested I should be referred to Hospiscare.
“I was so shocked; I thought I had cancer and so did everyone else. My goddaughter broke her heart when she heard I had been referred to Hospiscare – she thought I had cancer too.
“I think the public perception is that a hospice only deals with cancer patients, but that’s not true. Hospiscare is there to support you whatever illness you have, if it’s a potentially life limiting condition. I have a lung disease, but it isn’t cancer.
“I have a Hospiscare nurse that comes to my house to support me at home and I also come into Searle House once a week for a day care session. It’s made a huge difference to my quality of life.
“I must admit I thought it would be difficult coming into Searle House – you have a picture in your head that you will see people dying there. But it’s not like that, it’s not what you think. It’s a wonderful place with wonderful staff. I feel so well supported.
“I want to tell people about it so they know not to fear it, and that it’s not all about cancer.
“When I come into Searle House, nothing is too much trouble for the staff and volunteers. Whatever you need help with, they are there to support you and they cheer me up no end. They paint my nails, give me a foot massage and next week I am going to have a one to one yoga session to help with my breathing. One to one! It’s incredible they can offer me that sort of individual attention.
“When I worked as a manager in the residential home looking after all the youngsters with mental health issues, I thought my team of staff there were terrific, and they were. But I have to say the Hospiscare staff beat them hands down! I want everyone to know about this place and what they do, and encourage people to support the charity.
“If I can, I intend to enter this year’s Twilight Walk on my mobility scooter to support Hospiscare, try and raise awareness and hopefully some money too. I can’t thank them enough for the help they are giving me, and want more people to know about this amazing charity.”