'I may have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but I still need to live'

Nicola Bell
Nicola Bell -Credit:Sue Ryder

A woman who is terminally ill has shared how a local hospice has "given her life".

Nicola Bell, 50, from Wilsden, West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a year ago and recently found support from day therapy sessions at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope.

Nicola, who lives with her 18-year-old daughter Ruby and dog Bryan, has spoken about her experience at the hospice.

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She said: “Because I was so ill at the beginning, everything that has come afterwards has seemed like not too much of a problem. I see the district nurses every two weeks and we had talked about Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.

“One day she asked me if I’d be interested in going along to a six-week course at the hospice. To be honest I thought it wasn’t really my sort of thing. I’m lucky that I have close family and lots of friends to support me. I’m also very independent so I’ve already planned for everything.

“But I decided I would go along, and it was such a good decision. One of the sessions on the course went through what benefits you’re entitled to, how to do a will and things like that, which I think is really beneficial.

"When I first got diagnosed, I was so desperately ill I would have found it hard to do all those things by myself but a friend was here to help me, but I know a lot of people wouldn’t have that same support.”

Nicola already had a connection to Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice after her dad received end-of-life care back in 2016. She said: “He was only there for 24 hours but as soon as I arrived from the hospital and sat down in his room the weight just lifted from my shoulders. That’s what I remember and that’s what I want for my family.

“I didn’t really know that the hospice offers all these other things inbetween but I honestly think those services are just as important. The group that I went to was fun and we actually had a laugh which is not what I expected. You are sat with like-minded people who are in the same situation as you.

“We had cups of tea, we learned about mindfulness, we had hand massages, I was given an aromatherapy pack to help with my chemo. Being at the hospice just felt safe and comfortable.

"My dad never told us what his wishes were, and we didn’t know what he wanted so I have made sure everyone knows my wishes, even down to the songs I want at my funeral.

“I honestly don’t think people realise this support is available. You may have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but you still need to live.

“I would recommend the day therapy sessions to anyone, but I think with the amount of knowledge and support they offer they would be a real lifeline for someone who doesn’t have much of a support network. Even if you are lucky enough to have good support, sometimes you don’t want to tell your family everything, so to have this group is really valuable.

“Nobody wants to die and for some people the journey to accepting that is quite difficult, but I think the more we speak about it the better. You just have to carry on and live your life and that’s what I’ve done. It’s a different life now but you’ve still got to make the most of it.”

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