"Laughter and friendship are things you don't expect in a hospice"

An unexpected friendship when it mattered most: Liz and Pauline became instant friends when they shared a room at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice.

"It was lovely to come through the door, especially after feeling so scared, and be greeted with a smile," recalls 69-year-old retired teacher Liz.

Liz had been enjoying her recent retirement so it was a shock to be diagnosed with lung cancer and chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease, and told she had between six and 12 months to live.

"Until now my symptoms have been managed by the hospital," explains Liz, "but in January, when my condition deteriorated, I was admitted to St John’s Hospice after my breathing and pains levels became unbearable."

"I want people to know that this is the most wonderful place"

Following chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to treat multiple myeloma, another resident named Pauline was also being supported to manage her symptoms at St John’s.

It was during her fourth stay at St John’s that Pauline met Liz.

"It’s amazing that, in a time of such pain and sadness, I have met such a wonderful, funny and outgoing person," Pauline says. Both have vowed to keep in contact with each other.

"The staff are amazing and there’s nothing they won’t do to make sure you feel at home and comfortable," she adds. "I want people to know that this is the most wonderful place – not only for the care, but because I have made a wonderful new friend.

"Laughter in a hospice is something that you don’t expect," she continues. "This old house is not a sterile building; love really does hold it all together."

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