A Patients Story - Harry Stephenson
If you have ever visited East Lancashire Hospice (prior to the Covid Pandemic) you will know Harry Stephenson – everyone knows Harry and of course, his big beaming smile that lights up a room and welcomes everyone wherever he goes!
Harry first came to the Hospice as a day patient in 2019 – in fact he likes to recall how he had just missed the Christmas party.
Harry’s wife Bridie, was being nursed in our Inpatient Unit for a Brain Tumour , and during this time he himself found out he also had cancer. The hospice doctor at the time, Dr Bailey, treated both husband and wife and after Bridie sadly died, kept in touch with Harry. After speaking on a number of occasions, she expressed her concern and asked him to speak to one of the hospice counsellors.
Harry took the advice and after the sessions, said they ‘Did him a World of good.’
As Harry also had a life limiting illness, the counsellor suggested he attend our Creative and Supportive Therapies. Coming once a week on Fridays, he met many others who also attended and became close friends. They enjoyed lunch in Café Retreat and Harry took part in many activities such as the Hospice choir, even performing on stage at the prestigious Bridgewater Hall. He added, ‘Singing is the greatest form of therapy you can have, and when you have finished singing, everyone is smiling at the end of it.’
When the Pandemic meant that groups of people could not all come together at the same time, the hospice made plans to go to the group members – either by Zoom, telephone, or for those who wanted it and especially if they didn’t enjoy the world of Zoom, home visits.
Harry said, “Liz, who works in CAST, started to visit me at home every week, and as I had so enjoyed and missed the painting classes I used to go to in the hospice, Liz encouraged me to paint at home.’
‘The last time I had drawn before the hospice, was when I was 18 years old. I was in the Navy. Being at sea for long periods meant I was sometimes bored so I did black and white sketches from the deck. It’s taken me until I am in my nineties to pick up my paintbrushes again and now I paint significant pictures for my family, have them framed and sign them for them to keep.’
‘I painted a beach in Scotland where my granddaughter’s partner proposed to her and the first painting I ever did was for my son Gary of the lighthouse in Scotland where his boat was moored. We often went sailing together and he was really chuffed when I gave it to him, I never tell the family when I am doing them, they are always a surprise when they have been finished.’
Harry added, ‘Lockdown isn’t easy and Liz’s visits are a tremendous benefit. I sometimes need encouragement when I don’t feel well enough but Liz comes with a smile on her face, she is now like one of the family.”