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Liz's story

‘When my husband Peter was first diagnosed with prostate cancer he had regular check-ups and everything was going well, but he became ill very quickly. After several tests, we found out that he also had neuroendocrine cancer. Peter was at home but finding it harder to cope. His consultant said a stay in Wakefield Hospice would be beneficial because if Peter could build his strength up, chemotherapy could be given. The hospice would be able to help him do this.  
 
Going in that first day, Peter was quite emotional. He was weak, thin and in a great deal of pain. He was finding it hard to come to terms with his illness and it was very emotional. The staff were extraordinary in their response to him – I could see they cared. Nothing was rushed, and he was allowed to cry.   
 
We were greeted by lovely, caring staff on the ward. The bed was ready for Peter and he was asked straight away if he wanted a cuppa. We were taken to see the doctor, who explained the facilities and what Peter’s stay would involve. On returning to the ward, Peter was actually smiling. He said ‘It's like a luxury hotel, but free!’
 
We expected the hospice to be dull, sombre and full of despair. Far from it – there was a lovely atmosphere, not a bit morbid. The grounds are beautiful and inside it is tranquil yet full of friendly, smiling people. The furnishings were carefully placed, with flowers all over. There was a TV by every bed, and tea and coffee available for visitors.
 
At the hospice, Peter was a person again and not a number. The emotional support and medical care were extraordinary. Peter's dignity was high on his priorities! He could laugh, he could cry. If he was in pain, it was sorted. If he needed to eat, he was fed. He had physiotherapy and massage, and a great chef who cooked better than me! He could have a drink 'from the bar' on an evening and a chat whenever he felt like it. It was home from home.
 
There was a chapel for prayer, books to read, and even a little shop. The day care was also a huge support, with art classes and meditation. Many of these therapies are also available to carers like myself. And the ‘after care’ I received was amazing. When I felt alone, the bereavement team was understanding and compassionate.
 
To anyone using the hospice, for whatever reason, I would say, ‘Give it a try.’ Don't be afraid of it – it's a good place, full of happiness and calm. The patient’s dignity is kept, and families and friends are welcome – as are children and pets!
 
No-one can imagine a hospice until they have use of it. My perception of it was not pleasant – like many people, I thought of it as a place of death. Oh, how that has changed! It's a caring and dignified home where calm, peace and tranquillity exist. It's a building where you can find new friends and people who understand. It's a chat room where you can talk freely and know you're not alone. It's a place of beauty where you can sit in the gardens and think good thoughts.
 
Probably the most inspiring feature of the hospice is that 75 per cent of it is paid for through fundraising and the support of the local community. I’ve raised funds for the hospice and volunteered my time, and I get great pleasure in doing this. I want to keep this great facility, and I’ll continue to raise money for its upkeep; you never know when you might need it.’