Keep On Moving: Hospice Patient Bev Gee takes us through her hospice journey

Published on: 14/09/2023

Bev excels at balloon tennis

In her real life, outside the hospice, Bev has been married to lorry driver, Colin, for 37 years, has 4 children, Lee, Neil, Katie and Adam and 13 grandchildren, ranging from 20 years to 18 months old.

It’s a busy and full life, so when she was diagnosed with kidney (renal) cancer 14 years ago it was a challenging time for Bev and her whole family.

However, after a range of treatments, Bev was in remission for years until a pain in her upper left arm appeared and subsequent biopsy revealed that the cancer had returned and attached to the bone there.

Surgery was advised and the bone, from elbow to shoulder, was removed and replaced with a metal rod. Her consultants advised that they’d removed the cancer from her arm but can never say for certain that her particular cancer won’t return.

One priority for Bev was to build up the strength in her arm and this is something Wirral Hospice St John’s has been helping with.

Like so many patients Bev was apprehensive when she was first invited to attend our hospice Wellbeing Centre and she explained her journey,.

“I thought hospice was only about end-of-life care, but how wrong I was.

I don’t mind admitting I was frightened to attend but after a couple of reassuring phone chats with Wellbeing nurse, Lesley, and deputy community services manager, Ryan, I decided to give it a go.

Bev with (l-r) Ryan, Maggie and Sue

On my first day, a Thursday morning, my journey with Wirral Hospice St John’s began.

At reception I was met by Cheryl. She was immediately gentle and caring and made me feel really comfortable. I know her a lot better now and she is so lovely and so knowledgeable. I really enjoy talking with her.

Lesley, another beautiful person, showed me into the Wellbeing lounge where other patients, on their own journeys, were sitting with hospice staff and volunteers and everyone was so friendly. With a nice cup of tea and a biscuit I was soon passing the time of day, chatting and laughing (I hadn’t laughed for a long time).

Over the initial six weeks I was being supported by the wider hospice team. Therapy Assistant, Tracy, always came in, first thing and at the end of the session, to deliver relaxation sessions and chair exercises to help us find ways of coping with tiredness, anxiety and breathlessness in our home lives. I still use the techniques to help me relax when I might be feeling a little scared or stressed.

Bev ready to do arm machine exercise with Physio Miriam

Ashley, another nurse, and Lesley. would then facilitate chats, they suggest a topic, or we could pick one and then the conversations would go in all different directions. That people were listening to me and my challenges alongside their own was very comforting. Learning about pain management, bowel care and correct use of appropriate medications was also a great help.

After the initial six weeks I then joined the Wellbeing Centre’s ‘Check in and Chat’ group. It’s a great time spending a few hours with other patients who have been through the initial six weeks of wellbeing sessions. Lesley, Ashley, Ryan alongside regular volunteers, Geoff, Maggie and Sue, get involved. Playing games, Play Your Cards Right, Quoits and the most enjoyable Gym-Ball Drumming sessions.

Sometimes singing, sometimes chatting, always laughing, I might even disappear for half an hour for a complementary therapy session, with a lovely volunteer, Emma, which is always so relaxing. I also attend a Monday exercise class with brilliant physio, Miriam, as well as Tracy. We’re about to embark on strategies on balance to guard against falling and I now have more mobility than I thought I would ever have again.

I feel so positive about myself again and can enjoy time with my grandchildren and it is all thanks to the wonderful people I have met through the Wellbeing Centre at Wirral Hospice.

I am so grateful for everybody’s kindness, understanding, care and for making me feel strong again.

Thank You Wirral Hospice St John’s.”

And, we thank YOU, Bev, for sharing your story and for inspiring many other people.