Valerie’s praise for hospice angels

Valerie Railton (right) with Hospice nurse Jan Dunn
Valerie Railton (right) with Hospice nurse Jan Dunn

A CANCER sufferer has praised hospice staff for helping her to cope with the shock of her illness.

Valerie Railton, 50, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in January last year. But the help she has received from staff at Hartlepool and District Hospice is so good, she described it as feeling like she had “angel wings wrapped round her”.

She began chemotherapy and radiotherapy within a month of her diagnosis and, by mid-March of 2010, was feeling really ill from the side effects.

But that is when Hartlepool and District Hospice began playing a valuable part in her life.

Valerie said: “My Macmillan Nurse suggested that a short stay in our local hospice could benefit me. Initially I was scared of being admitted, but I was in a lot of pain so agreed to a week’s stay.” As she looks back on her fears of being in a hospice, she admitted: “How wrong can a person be? Within 24 hours I had been fitted with a syringe driver and was pain-free. I was prescribed anti-nausea drugs, so within a couple of days I felt almost normal again.

“The staff were brilliant and taught my husband Dave, who is my only carer, how to use the overnight feeding system that I needed. By the end of my stay, both myself and Dave were feeling a lot more confident about dealing with the feeding system and administration of all the drugs that were necessary.”

Once Valerie’s treatment was finished, Dave was caring for her alone at home with visits from the District and Macmillan Nurses.

Valerie said: “After a few weeks my mood was very low and I felt isolated and guilty as I could see how tired caring for me was making Dave.

“When the hospice offered me a place in the Day Hospice Unit I was glad to accept, and have found it very good for me.

“I can’t praise the hospice enough, or the lovely staff who work there. The support Dave and I receive has helped us a great deal to cope with the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Mum-of-two Valerie – who has worked as a barmaid, a Hartlepool Borough Council interviewer and on a pig farm in the past, lives in Hartlepool with Dave, 60, and her children.

Hartlepool & District Hospice, based in Wells Avenue, Hartlepool, is a registered charity offering specialist palliative care to hundreds of adults from Hartlepool and East Durham each year.

It costs £2.3m to continue providing the current range of services. The Hospice receives 27.5 per cent NHS funding so the outstanding £1.7 million must be raised through the local community and other fundraising initiatives.