Jean is a Martlets outpatient and is receiving care from our community nursing and rehab teams at home, as well as taking part in several of our wellbeing groups online. She explains how Martlets is helping her do more of what she loves.
“In November of 2021 I was diagnosed with very aggressive bone marrow cancer which I was told was terminal. It was a big shock, but I didn’t want to have any invasive treatment, I just wanted to do what I could to live life to the fullest during the time I had left. That’s where Martlets came in; I made the decision to enter palliative care and everyone at Martlets has been brilliant.
A lovely community nurse specialist visited me at home and arranged for all sorts of things to help with my symptoms, my mobility and my wellbeing. It was funny as I had it in my head that an occupational therapist was someone who might come out to help me find things to keep me occupied! I though, well I already knit so I don’t need them to help me do that! So I put off the appointment. But I quickly realised that it was to do with the house and helping me get around.
The occupational therapy team at Martlets have made so many adjustments at home that have helped with my mobility. They always seem to be one step ahead of me, anticipating my needs so that I feel safe.
I got stuck in the bath once and so Martlets arranged for me to have a hydraulic chair to get me in and out easily. It’s absolutely marvelous. They also helped me arrange for a stairlift to be put in and got me a walker – my chariot, as I call it! It’s made such a difference and helped me keep my independence.
I’ve also used Martlets’ phone hub quite a bit. It’s good to know there’s someone there when I need advice and support. They have been brilliant at liaising with my GP and the hospital to make sure my care is coordinated and that there are no delays. And I must say the Martlets chaplain has also been a great comfort at times – it’s lovely to have that connection too.
I could not have kept cheerful and positive since my cancer diagnosis without these groups and the wonderful people who run them and take part. It’s not just the activities we do, but also the people involved.
The team who run the wellbeing groups at Martlets are so lovely, professional, and caring. I’ve made some wonderful friends. I’ve been taking part in various online sessions via Zoom including mindfulness, tai chi, guided walking visualisations, and the My Journey group.
Mindfulness teaches gentleness. I had never been taught how to be gentle with myself; it’s a whole new way of life that is transformative. I brought up five boys and had a busy life and it was hard work, though also very special. But back then there was never any sense of taking time out for myself. So to be encouraged to do that in these mindfulness sessions has given me permission to be gentle with myself. That is so important particularly as time is so precious now.
Tai Chi is also a lovely class and the teacher tells us the history behind the movements. There are different movements for different seasons according to the energy of the natural world. This has really helped me because I was not expecting to live long enough to make it through the cycle of the seasons, but I have. Some days I’ll do the movements standing up, other times sitting in a chair, or a bit of both. I really feel my circulation whizzing around and that I’ve gained energy just from doing some simple flowing movements.
I don’t always look for happiness, but sometimes I think it can turn up quite suddenly when you least expect it. Tai chi has taught me to tune into the happy feeling in my heart centre that I can always return to.
In tai chi, we talk about chakras and meridians and that sort of thing. It’s all new to me but I’ve learned that happiness is felt in the heart centre where the emotions are. I was living such a busy life in the rat race years ago that I would never have stopped to fully feel any of this. Now I can truly connect to it which is a gift.
I also enjoy the guided walks sessions as they have taught me to use my own imagination. I had thought that listening to someone talk us through a ‘virtual’ journey wouldn’t be for me. But I was surprised how much I became absorbed by it and they are wonderful. There was one in particular that connected me to some lovely memories from my childhood. It started off with us wrapping up warmly and venturing out into the snow, then riding on a sleigh with horses and bells jingling. And then we went through a wood and saw lots of woodland creatures. We reached a clearing, heard children laughing and playing, and went inside a cottage with a roaring fire for a hot drink. It was just amazing as it took me back to my childhood when we would do that.
I’m 79 and yet those memories are still so clear. I can remember the wonderful smells of Christmassy things, and everyday things like coal being delivered, and riding on a donkey on the beach in summer. These guided walking sessions have helped me fire up my imagination. They’ve helped me reconnect with all sorts of lovely memories that mean so much to me.
I’m telling everybody to support Martlets because they make such a difference to people’s lives. I’m so happy to be able to give a chunk of my pension to the hospice by way of support. I couldn’t be so cheerful and live life to the full without you all, so thank you Martlets.
Our wellbeing groups are open to Martlets’ patients and their loved ones and carers. Please contact Ann Borg for more information. Email email@example.com or call 01273 273400.
If you would like to make a donation to Martlets to help more people like Jean, please visit https://www.martlets.org.uk/donate/