“I asked my friend if her boyfriend had any nice friends. She arranged a date and the rest is history.”

Bonnie, 70, met her husband Keith, 69, in 1975 after being set up on a date; they’ve been married now for 44 years and have two children and three grandchildren.

For their 40th wedding anniversary they took a dream trip to Australia and planned to do a lot more travelling in their retirement.

Secondary cancer

Unfortunately, Bonnie found out in 2021 that she had a secondary cancer which had spread through her bones.

*She is currently having chemotherapy and is under the care of our Hospice Nurse Specialist (HNS) team – our team of nurses specially trained in palliative and end of life care which supports people in their own homes. Bonnie and Keith live in Tyldesley.

Bonnie said: “Keith has been absolutely wonderful since my diagnosis, he has really stepped up. He’s even doing all the cooking after never cooking any meals before.”

Bonnie was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy which were followed by regular hospital checks for the next 15 years.

She worked as an administrator for a Financial Advisor and carried on her role during the pandemic until her retirement in 2021.


All clear

In 2020 she began suffering with lower back pain and it was found the cancer had returned. The cancerous area was removed in January 2021 and she was given the all clear.

However, the back pain continued and a few months later Bonnie was offered an MRI for what was thought to be a problem with a disc.

“The scan showed up all the cancer and it was such a shock,” said Bonnie. “They arranged a bone biopsy for me which proved conclusively it was a secondary breast cancer from the first cancer I’d had in 1995.”

Bonnie came into the contact with the hospice in summer 2021 when Joanne from the HNS team went to see her.

In pain

“I was in pain, I was new to the tablets and I didn’t know what to do so Joanne came and explained what they did and what was best for me,” said Bonnie. “The changes made all the difference.”

Shortly after, Katie from the HNS team then became Bonnie’s regular contact. Katie telephones Bonnie or heads over to see her every four to six weeks to check on her symptoms and advise on medication if need be. She also provides vital psychological support to Bonnie.

Bonnie said: “The pain relief I’m on is helping. Katie has tweaked it and I’m feeling much better – the pain has plateaued.

“When she first started coming to see me I was very tearful – very down – but after a good long chat with Katie I realised there’s nothing wrong with having some help. It’s not just medical but psychological support I need; I get upset and this is when I need Katie – it’s easy to talk to her. Our conversations are very important for me.

“There is a difference in me now – I’m a lot more positive, I’m more determined that it’s not going to get me down. The diagnosis was such a shock at first but I feel less overwhelmed now and I’m in a much better place.”

Bonnie and Keith have more trips planned with friends and their family will continue to be supported by the HNS team for as long as they need it.

*This article first appeared in October 2022