Fair Havens Day Care Centre – offering emotional support to help the recovery process:
Many people are aware of the wonderful work done by Fair Havens with the service it offers to terminally ill patients and their families. But Fair Havens also offers much more to the local community such as respite care, the ‘Hospice at Home’ service, and also a Day Care Centre. (see Fair Havens – the facts for further information). Sue Atherton describes the wonderful emotional support she received from the Centre and how this support has helped her recovery process.
Lives in Southend.
Has three children – 26, 23 and 18.
Working full-time for the Job Centre in Southend
“I have secondary breast cancer and was diagnosed in April 2006. It was a complete shock – for four weeks I was told by my GP it was a suspected infection in my breast.
I started a round of treatment in February 2007 and had a severe reaction. It suddenly dawned on me how serious my treatment was going to be. I remember being in hospital and hearing how distraught a patient’s family was when he died which made me think about my family.
A nurse saw how upset I was and suggested visiting Fair Havens Day Care for support. I was sceptical at first and had to think carefully. I was worried about missing work because I have a full time job. My Manager asked me what I would get out of it. I said it would be part of my treatment. I needed to be with others in the same position. It was agreed I can attend once a fortnight.
I pretend around my children and work colleagues that everything is fine which just adds to the stress of the illness. When I come to Day Care, it’s a different world. Words cannot describe how it makes me feel. I can come in feeling miserable and leave laughing. There is genuine understanding and support.
I have not regretted one day of visiting Fair Havens Day Care. It is a tower of strength for me. The camaraderie is brilliant. I can joke about my illness and I’m not questioned when I have angry days. The doctors and specialists can explain how to deal with certain symptoms, and I get professional counselling here.
I am cared for the minute I leave the front door by the volunteer driver, right up until the point I am dropped off. And there is always someone at the other end of the telephone if I need advice. Work colleagues can see the difference in me the day after I have come to Day Care.
This place has given me strength to fight my illness. I was told I would have cancer for the rest of my life but in October I was told I was in remission. I believe that is partly down to the support I have been given by Fair Havens.
I had no idea the funding crisis was so severe as the care and support we as patients receive is free of charge. The fundraisers work tirelessly and it’s heartbreaking that the funds are not coming in.
I hope people understand that Fair Havens as a whole is a service anybody can use that may be in a similar situation. It is not just for older people. I want people to know how important it has been in my life and what it’s done for me and my family. It’s giving dignity back to patients at such a difficult time. It’s not just for patients in their last days. My family call it my “Away Day.” If I’m happy, then my family is happy.
I couldn’t image not having Fair Havens. The support and comfort I get is indescribable.”
Healthy Life Essex would like to thank Sue for sharing her experiences with us. We are sure our community will continue to support the wonderful work done by Fair Havens whether by direct contribution, attending and supporting various fund-raising events, or even directly participating in something yourself – anyone for a sky dive? (Just joking: participatory events can be anything from a gentle walk to walking the Great Wall of China.)
If you would like to make a donation, cheques should be made payable to Fair Havens Hospice, and sent to our Appeals and Administration Office, Stuart House, 47 Second Avenue, Westcliff on Sea, Essex, SS0 8HX
For more information about fund raising please contact us on 01702 220350
(call 07717 857854 after 5pm) www.fairhavens.org.uk