It was just like any other normal day when Ena noticed her clothes seemed to be too big. She had been feeling under the weather for a little while and thought something wasn’t quite right so she quickly called her doctor for a check-up. Two weeks and a lot of tests later Ena was given the devastating news that she had cancer of the bowel, liver and abdomen.
With a history of cancer in the family Ena knew how bad it was and asked for a prognosis – she was given just six months to live. She was immediately referred to Teesside Hospice; a charity that was already close to her heart.
Three years later Ena’s response is “We don’t give up at the Hospice”.
When you meet Ena her determination and strength is evident. No stranger to a battle, Ena first became involved with Teesside Hospice in 1983 when she lost her sister Peggy to cancer. Peggy was cared for at home without any help or support. It was around this time that Ena had heard about a group of local people who were passionate about palliative care and called themselves Teesside Hospice. Not long later Ena’s husband, a keen runner, decided to do the Great North Run and raised £500 which they donated to the Hospice. She took the cheque to her local bank and paid the money into the charity’s account. Days later she received a telephone call from Dr Whiles, Chairman of the charity at the time, to thank her for the donation and asked if she would like to get more involved.
Ena jumped at the chance of helping as she knew she could make a difference to people like her sister. Soon she began volunteering in the small fundraising office the charity had on Baker Street in Middlesbrough, before the purpose built Hospice we now know existed. Since then she never looked back and for the next 12 years Ena dedicated her time to help fundraise for the Hospice and was involved in everything from duck races on the River Tees to darts marathons in pubs. Ena found volunteering very rewarding and was proud to see the Hospice develop and become the specialist palliative care unit we know so many local people rely on… people like her!
Ena’s first day as a patient at Teesside Hospice was like anyone else’s. She felt privileged to be there but was apprehensive and nervous about accessing the care. However, her initial worries disappeared as soon as she walked through the door. Ena said “this warm loving place puts its arms around you and takes care of you”.
Ena, who currently visits the Day Hospice once a week, said it has helped her come to terms with her illness and supports her husband who feels safe in the knowledge she is receiving the best possible care. Ena has also accessed two weeks of care on the Inpatient Unit for pain and symptom control.
Ena explains “When I was admitted on to the unit I was on 35 different types of medication and was experiencing lots of pain and side effects. When I was discharged I was on just 11 types of medication, pain free and felt like I had been on a two-week holiday in a 1st class hotel – amazing!”
Ena, 79, says the Hospice has also given her the confidence and strength to fight this terrible illness to the very end and in May is looking forward to celebrating her next milestone birthday at a party with all her family and friends!
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