East Lancashire Hospice

Val Mullen

"I've got my mojo back. I'm living my life and it's thanks to the hospice.

I spent nearly 3 weeks there as I was at the end of my tether with constant pain and I couldn't take any more. I couldn't eat because of terribly sore lips that were a side effect of chemotherapy. I couldn't even touch them without feeling intense pain. I had spasms in my back and a wisdom tooth that no-one could touch because my lips were so sore. I lost a lot of weight and my friends were worried about me. One phoned up my nurse for advice and she contacted the hospice straight away.

I thought you went to the hospice to die, but they took me in and treated my symptoms. One of the doctors took advice on treating my lips immediately. It was like a miracle cure after so long trying so many things. I was given muscle relaxants for the back spasms. Each day I felt better - now I don't have any of the symptoms I went in with after putting up with them for over 12 months. I've even had my wisdom tooth removed.

I'm stronger, I've put nearly a stone back on since going to the hospice, I've a better mindset and I'm fitter. There is no comparison with the quality of life I had before. Now I can get out and meet friends. I can enjoy lunch like I used to. I've even treated myself to lamb shank for the first time in over a year - I enjoyed it thoroughly!

I can't thank the catering staff enough - I asked to see the cook to personally thank them for putting me on the road to recovery! I created a bucket list when I was in remission - I've still a couple of things on there but am planning to do them in the next few weeks.

Being ill has shown me how many friends I have and how much people care about me. I didn't realise how much people thought of me. I feel fortunate that I didn't become ill sooner. I've done a lot in my life and I've no regrets. I've had a full life and have been all over the world. My outlook is different now than when I was at my worst - I don't want to lose my independence - I'm not going to fade away in a nursing home having everything done for me.

I've always been very open about dying - I find that's the best way. I don't want anyone to be afraid to talk to me in case they upset me. I want people to feel like they can ask me how I am. I'm a strong-willed person and being ill and not having control over how I felt was very frustrating.

The hospice feels like a security cloak around me. I'm not scared or afraid. It's like a five star hotel with nurses.If I can be at the hospice when my time comes I've got peace of mind. The hospice has given me my life back."

Val Mullen