Sandra’s Story

“Having 1:1 time with a nurse who could just focus on my needs, was amazing. I came out of the Living Well programme feeling more confident and positive about the future”

Sandra’s Story

Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.  She was successfully treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and resumed her normal life.  But in 2021 Sandra discovered her cancer had come back and was now not curable. She was treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy which enabled her to continue her active lifestyle for over two years.

However, in May 2023 Sandra’s health suddenly and rapidly deteriorated.  After an emergency MRI scan, Sandra was told she had a 5cm tumour that was pressing on her spinal cord which has since left her paralysed.  Sandra is now a wheelchair user and currently lives in a nursing home.  She attended the 10-week Living Well programme from November 2023 – January 2024.

Sandra says: “I was an inpatient at Rennie Grove Peace Hospice in Watford when I was told about the Living Well programme.  I had not long been in a wheelchair and my health had deteriorated dramatically.  I thought the Living Well programme would help me make the most of my time and would be a chance to meet people in a similar situation.  I wanted to take stock and look holistically at my life and try and move on in a positive way.

“The course always started with tea and coffee and chatting to people.  Then there was a talk from a specialist on a range of subjects – such as meditation, exercise, nutrition and how to manage symptoms such as fatigue.  This was followed by lunch and a social activity such as art, singing or a quiz.

“I found the exercise sessions helpful as I am disabled from the diaphragm down, so finding exercises I can do is really hard.   The Tai Chi sessions were a highlight for me.  The skincare session was also useful as it gave ways to look after our skin to avoid pressure sores or other skin complaints.

“Having 1:1 time with a nurse who could just focus on my needs, was amazing.  I had some practical problems with my catheter and one of the nurses at the Living Well programme was able to facilitate a referral for a urologist for me.  The Living Well nurses were able to liase with other services on my behalf – such as hospital services, my GP, and my nursing home.  The Living Well team also facilitated an Occupational Therapist to come and assess what I would need at my home if I were to move back there.

“At the beginning of the Living Well programme we set ourselves goals.  My goal was to consider whether I could move back home.  I currently live in a nursing home, but I wanted to properly explore whether it was possible to live at home.   At the Living Well programme I spoke to a nurse and Occupational Therapist  that helped me consider all the options.  On one of the days, my husband attended the programme with me so we could discuss the elements of me coming home. In the end, I decided that it was not the right thing to do, which meant I could move on with my life and stop thinking and talking about it – which in itself was a relief.

“The Living Well programme gave me the opportunity to look at my life as a whole – medically, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I came out of the Living Well programme feeling more confident and positive about the future.”