Emily’s Story

My Journey at Wigan & Leigh Hospice

Emily began her journey with Wigan & Leigh Hospice as a student in 2016, before moving away and becoming a mum. After a difficult struggle with cancer, life brought Emily and her family back home where she returned to the hospice as a Staff Nurse in 2023. Here is her story.

“I started a twelve-week placement at the hospice when I was a student nurse at the end of 2016. I had a really nice time here, it was totally different to all of the other placements I’d had.

After I finished my placement and became qualified, I went to work in Orthopaedics for a while before deciding it wasn’t for me. After that I joined Langtree Ward at Wigan hospital for two and a half years before moving to Middlesborough to work at a surgical day unit.

But then in 2022, when my daughter was thirteen weeks old, I was diagnosed with Choriocarcinoma which is a rare placenta cancer.

My diagnosis meant I ended up having an extended period of maternity leave, in this time I decided to quit my job and move back home to be closer to my family whilst I was finishing my chemotherapy.

Although my cancer was not terminal, it was still an ordeal for me and my family. We had nine months of moving back and forward to Sheffield because that’s the only place in the UK that deals with the type of cancer I had. In this time there was a lot of turmoil and upheaval, and eventually I decided that it was time for a fresh start.

It was only when I felt well enough to start looking for a job that a vacancy at the hospice came up. I felt as though the role suited me because I have actually had a cancer diagnosis and I now know how it feels to be told you have cancer. I also know what cancer treatment can feel like physically, and I saw the impact it had on my family so I can relate to patients and what they are going through.”

Returning to the hospice

“I started as a staff nurse in November 2023, and since then I have learnt so much. I take every opportunity as a learning curve, even when upsetting things happen or when things don’t go to plan it is something to learn from and reflect on.

It was like I was meant to see that job. And now I am here, it’s like I have never been away. I look forward to coming to work each day, and I know I am making a difference and helping people.

As a team we give good care, sometimes that care is to help someone feel comfortable and ensure their family is well supported and sometimes it is fulfilling a patients wish to go home. It’s always an amazing achievement to be able to help a patient be in the position to go home if that’s their choice.

When a Senior Staff Nurse role became available in May 2024, I wasn’t sure whether or not to apply, but I had a lot of encouragement from my team who believed in me. I’ve been through a lot, and it was time for me to push myself and do something for me. During treatment, I lost all of my hair to chemotherapy but it’s now grown back and I am feeling more confident in myself.

My Mum is absolutely made up that I got the role, she has been my little cheerleader throughout the cancer and took me to all my appointments. I didn’t even tell her I was going for the interview. When she found out she said, ‘it’s about time, you deserve it’ and ‘you can give back to other people now’, and she was right.”

New opportunities

“Being a Senior Staff Nurse is about managing the ward and supporting junior staff as well as students – it’s about more than just coordinating a shift, it’s about mentoring people.

I’ve recently completed a mentorship course and have a student coming in soon who is going to join me on the Inpatient Unit for ten weeks. I’ve never mentored anyone before so this will be another challenge for me, but one I look forward to.

Everyone at the hospice is supportive, and I’ve learnt so much from everyone. They’ll say come on Emily, let’s go and do this or I’ll show you where this is. Everyone is approachable and they include you from the start which is what I now do with anyone new who joins us.

I am really happy at the hospice and I’m getting a lot of job satisfaction, it’s made me feel empowered and I think ‘I can do it’, ‘I am capable’. Sometimes you don’t even think you’re at work, it’s just a really nice environment to be in.

I think with this new role it is time now for me to show everyone what I am capable of. I took a chance, and it paid off.”

Published July 2024


If you would like to join the Wigan & Leigh Hospice team, please see our current vacancies or contact HR@wlh.org.uk to express your interest.