East Lancashire Hospice

Ann Dobson

"We're a force to be reckoned with!"

Busin­es­swoman Ann has a busy life, but always keeps Thursdays free to spend the day at the hospice with a special group of people.

"When I discovered I had cancer for the 4th time, I thought 'I'm finished - this must be it'. But for the first time, people discussed the hospice with me. I'd never been offered support like this before.

"My Dad was one of the first hospice patients to be cared for 32 years ago. I wasn't sure if it was for me or what I'd get from it, but I spoke to staff who encouraged me to come and give it a try.

"I didn't think I needed counselling - I'm a strong-willed person and always think if you can have a bit of a laugh through it all, it helps. I'm a bit of a joker and like to be around people. But I went to a session and realised I did need it. I felt better being able to get things off my chest with someone.

I went along to Thursday group in Creative and Support Therapies to see what it was like. Now I go every week. I look forward to it so much. I'm not sat at home feeling like there might be a tomorrow - I don't want to do that. Instead we have a laugh and have fun - I love to make people laugh. It's still reality here, but we're all going through something similar and I draw strength from chatting and being able to help others.

"We're a force to be reckoned with! I really believe that if we're strong together, we can beat it. People often think I'm a staff member or volunteer, because I'll go and make a brew and help some of the others if I can. It gives me a sense of worth.

"I've also had some comple­men­tary therapy sessions when my treatment has allowed. It takes me from not thinking I have any stresses before it to feeling calmer, less troubled and more free after. Its hard to put into words but it really does help me to feel better.

"My stand out memory from going to the hospice is last Christmas. I was still having treatment and was quite poorly. I couldn't manage to cook at home and I was going to miss out on my favourite time of year. I came to the hospice for Christmas dinner and wow! The candles were lit, I could have a small glass of wine and it was a perfect Christmas dinner. I was so happy and so emotional, I stood up after and thanked the staff. I haven't experienced anything like that. They gave me Christmas.

"Going to the hospice every week is like going to a 2nd home - an extension of my family. It makes my heart smile. I want to bottle the hospice and take it everywhere with me. It shows me there is always something to focus on to get you through."

Ann Dobson, 65, Blackburn