It took a number of years of poor health before Lorraine McCarry was diagnosed with a complex bone marrow disorder, for which there is no cure.
Her doctor referred her to The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice but at the time she declined.
“I didn’t think it was for me, I thought it was a place of doom and gloom. I felt that wasn’t what I needed at that time,” she remembers.
“Later I needed more treatment and found that I couldn’t cope on my own. I always knew the hospice was there and I asked for a referral, I’ve never looked back since.
“I got to a very low point in my life and a friend reminded me that the hospice was there, it wasn’t just for people who are dying.
“I was absolutely devastated at the time, I didn’t know if I would survive the treatment, the doctors didn’t know. I needed positivity. Little did I know that’s what the hospice gives you, it’s vibrant and full of life.
“It took the best part of a year for me to come to the hospice. I didn’t want to burden my family, I didn’t want to give them any more stress than they already had, because your family suffer too, not just you. I think I got to a point where I had to accept help.
“I always knew the hospice was there in the background because initially I met a specialist nurse from the hospice who came out to visit me at home. She said, ‘You’re doing well but you know we’re always here for you’. So that was always at the back of my mind and it just took a friend to remind me.
“It was a big relief when I made that decision, it was a big weight off my shoulders. You don’t have to go through it alone.
“If you can imagine having the worst flu, not being able to get out of your bed, not being able to wash yourself, make your dinner, think straight, you’re in a mental fog. You think it’s the end, you think you can’t get through it. That’s what the worst days are like for me.
“The hospice has helped me in so many ways, there are so many services. The first thing I accessed was the complementary therapist, she’s great for stress relief and for pain relief.
“The next thing was the art room, it’s just a very special place. The artists bring the best out of everyone. People from all walks of life come along. It’s a very special room and a lot of magic happens there, the staff are fantastic and there’s no pressure. I think that’s the most important thing. It never ceases to amaze me what people can achieve, it’s very inspiring. Other patients and the staff inspire me all the time, and I think that affects everyone round about you.
“I probably accessed the hospice when I needed it the most, and I just wish other people could too.
“I’d say to anyone who needs help from a hospice and doesn’t know what to expect: make the first step, see your GP and ask for a referral. You can either visit or someone will visit you, but take that first initial step and take it from there. It can change your life, it can give you a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem.”