Hospice Care Week

Yesterday marked the start of Hospice Care Week.

Hospices do extraordinary work. When people think of a hospice they automatically think of it as a place that people go to die… but that is not the case. A hospice is also about life. It is about promoting life. It’s about fully experiencing life and receiving the right care and support to do so until such times that end of life care may need to be offered.

Hospices, don’t only help inpatients but they support people out in the community too. They help and support people and their loved through such tough times!

Check out https://www.hospiceuk.org/support-us/campaigns/hospice-care-week for more information about hospice care week.

Christmas Eve 2017

Today is Christmas Eve!

Christmas can be the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ On the other hand, it can be a very difficult time for people. It is a time when loved ones are remembered, and their absence are most felt. It can be stressful trying to organise everything – get in or book a place for Christmas dinner, buying in gifts, wrapping the gifts, sending out the Christmas cards. People worry about their finances, can they afford buying presents, when will they have the money to go shopping? Some people put themselves into debt with trying to buy gifts for Christmas. It can be difficult. Dealing with a chronic condition on top of all these other stresses can be difficult. These extra stressors put extra strain on a person and can cause flare ups or make management of symptoms more difficult, which is not ideal. 

Sometimes, I think the meaning of Christmas has been lost. The Christmas spirit is a magical thing! It’s about spreading love, and cheer. It’s about helping people. It’s about seeing children’s faces light up at the magic of the season. It’s about family and friendship, and spending time with those loved ones. It is not about the material objects and the waste that can occur. It’s about the good deeds – making hampers for homeless people, visiting elderly people so they are not lonely, making an effort to help people, simply saying ‘hi’ to people, wishing them well.

The magic, and meaning of Christmas, can be brought about by being nice. Just try to be a decent human being. Treat people with respect. Help people, even if it is just to lend an ear and give them an opportunity to have somebody to talk to. Try not to make fast judgements of people and their situations. Just be nice! I really think it could be as easy as that. When I was in school, at assembly the head teacher would always say “treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.” It has been something that has always stuck with me and I have tried to live my life by. Yes, there are times I fail but I am human, and I’m just trying to feel my way through life.

I hope that everybody has a lovely Christmas time and gets to experience that magical, feeling. I hope everybody feels love, happiness and value. 

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2017

 

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A poster from the Lung Cancer Awareness Month website.

 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women.

Cancer is a horrible disease! I know so many people that have been affected by it, whether that be having cancer themselves or watching loved ones go through their battles. Even with Cancer being so widely known it is something that is not always spoken about. The very word Cancer brings about a lot of fear. In a lot of ways, it is like Voldemort in the Harry Potter series! The very name brings fear and uncertainty. Which is why the wizarding community started referring to Voldemort as “He Who Must Not Be Named” or “You Know Who”. Like Voldemort, Cancer is often avoided in talks and has been shortened to “The Big C”. I think it should be spoken about. Cancer is isolating, and avoiding talking about it only makes it more isolating. I understand that people don’t know what to say to a person who has a diagnosis. It is a lot for people to process. My advice is just to be there. Let the person know that you are there when they want to, and if they need to talk and just be there. Treat the person with dignity and respect and don’t make them feel that they are alone. It really is that simple.

Cancer begins in cells in our body. Cells in our bodies are what makes up the organs and tissue in them. Our bodies heal, grow and repairs itself by cells dividing and new ones being created. Sometimes these can become abnormal and they keep on dividing and creating more abnormal cells that can come together and for a lump, or a tumour. A tumour is not always cancerous though.

The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • A cough for 3 or more weeks or a change in a cough that you’ve had for a while
  • A chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
  • Feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason
  • Chest or shoulder pain that does not get better
  • A hoarse voice for 3 or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • Fatigue
  • The end of your fingers have changed shape (larger or rounder – clubbing)

If you or someone you know have any of these symptoms, it is best to talk to a doctor and get it checked out.

There are two main types of lung cancer – non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Treatment depends on the type of lung cancer you have. Small cell lung cancer is so named due to the way that the cells look under the microscope. It is fast-growing cancer and spreads quickly.

My nana was primarily diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. When she was diagnosed it had already spread to her adrenal gland. It is thought that it may have spread to her head but she was too ill at the time for the tests to know, but she was showing symptoms that it had.

There are so many different charities and organisations that provide care and support to people and their families through the diagnosis. A quick google search and you will find a lot. Below are links that are full of information, resources and further links to look at.

Check out the Lung Cancer Awareness Month website to find real stories about lung cancer from lung cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and family and friends, http://lcam.org/stories-of-hope/.

The Beatson website has a huge list of different sites for support and information about all different types of Cancer, http://www.beatson.scot.nhs.uk/content/default.asp?page=s17, as does the IASLC (the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer) https://www.iaslc.org/patient-resources/advocacy-partners. The list on the IASLC website may be more beneficial for people outside of the UK.

Petals of Remembrance

 

Today I attended a beautiful remembrance service arranged by Accord Hospice. Accord Hospice is a hospice in my home town, Paisley. Accord’s purpose is to provide compassionate, palliative and end of life care to people. They strive to then continue to comfort loved ones through the bereavement process and remembrance. They “…seek to optimise all that brings meaning, comfort and hope, ensuring that we value and celebrate life in all its diversity” (part of the Accord mission).

Every year the hospice puts on a service of remembering in honour of the people who have passed away and their families. Each year is a different theme. Today the theme was petals. The hospice had sent a petal shape out to my papa and the idea was to write the name or a memory or a message of remembrance for the loved one you have lost. Petals were provided at the back of the hall for anybody who wanted to write their own message. If you look at the picture below, all the different colours on the stage are all the ‘petals’ with all the messages of remembrance. It felt like such an intimate moment when people went to lay their petal.The service was a chance for people to come together to remember loved ones through song, music, poems, prayers, memories and love.

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At one point of the service petals fell over us all. Realistically, this was people up the stairs, walking along throwing petals over everybody but it was a beautiful moment. It was like receiving your own message, or sign, from your loved one.

The theme of nature is particularly important to me. There is a tree near the family plot in the cemetery. It is a beautiful tree, full of blossoms.On the day that we buried my nana’s ashes, as my papa and my uncle lowered the casket, I got tapped on the head by a branch from the tree and petals fell off. I took this to be a comforting pat on the head off my nana. Another important part of the service was when “On Eagles Wings” was sung. This was a hymn that we picked for my nana’s funeral.

On the 20th of May my papa, my aunt and uncle, my sister and I stayed overnight at the hospice to be with my nana. The staff at the hospice were fantastic! Not only did the provide the best care to my nana but they also looked after all of us. At 7am of the 21st (of May) we were altogether with my nana as she passed away. This service was very important. It was a chance for me to think about my nana, to think about time spent together, to think about her. Around 5am on the morning my nana passed away I was in the room with her, holding her hand and “Con te partiro” came on. At the time, I was so emotional that I started to cry even heavier. I was so annoyed by it. Calming music was being played to try and block out the sound of the nebuliser, and to help keep the atmosphere calm to help us and my nana. “Con te partiro” is translated to “Time to say Goodbye.” Now, in hindsight, I think it was an important time to have. Many different pieces of music was played that night and I cannot remember any of them other than ‘Time to say Goodbye.’ This is such a poignant memory for me, and it is one that is going to stay with me for life. I thought about how cheeky my nana was. She was so funny, and the faces she pulled. I thought about all the outings we had, the arguments we had, the cries we had, the laughs we had.My nana passing away was one of the most difficult time of my life and having a time and space to reflect upon everything, i feel, has been beneficial for me.

I have written about my nana before. She was such an inspiration. She made such an impact on people when meeting her. Everybody comments on the loss that they feel without her here. She was loving, strong, determined, loyal, stubborn and she fought a brave battle. If I can become half as charismatic, present and loving person as my nana was, I will have succeeded in life.

Check out more about Accord Hospice here: http://www.accordhospice.org.uk/

 

On a completely different note, today marks the start of Fibromyalgia Awareness week. Later on during the week I think I may add another blog, about fibromyalgia. If anybody has any questions about life with fibromyalgia, please feel free to ask. I may not have all the answers but I am happy to speak about my own experiences.

For more information check out http://www.fmauk.org/