Patient Stories

Your support really does make a huge difference

Helen Derham

Helen Derham


Helen Derham, 67, from Leigh was keen to help us spread the messages that hospices are not just for people with cancer and that they are not only there for people in the last few days of life.

Helen has multiple sclerosis (MS) and first came into contact with the hospice in 2008 when she came to the day hospice. She came into contact with us again in October 2016 when she stayed on the Inpatient Unit so staff could bring her symptoms under control.

Since then she has had regular home visits from the Hospice In Your Home community nursing team who provide support or give her a hand massage and offer her husband of 41 years, David, a carer break.

Mum to John (37) and James (32), found out in her early 40s that she had MS, a condition which affects the nerves. Symptoms might include fatigue, vision problems or difficulties with walking, but MS is different for everyone. Helen also has Neuralgia which is a severe pain and is linked to MS.

She said: "I had toothache and went to the dentist and he said he thought I had neuralgia which I'd never heard of but of course he was right.
"I went to the GP started going up to my cheek and it was a white-hot pain and he said it might be MS."

Helen describes the pain as 'coming and going with no warning' over the years but now it is progressive and permanent.

She is well cared for at home by David and loves listening to audio books of classic literature, such as Jane Austen.

Wigan and Leigh Hospice provided care for 1,077 people with a life-limiting illness in 2016. We also provided support for those people close to our patients.

Helen Derham 2

Kath Clarke

Kath Clarke

Kath Clarke, 66, from Wigan has chronic lung disease and is one of our patients. Many people still believe that we care only for people with cancer but in fact we support anyone with a life-limiting illness.

It is also widely believed that if you come into the hospice you will never go home when in fact around 40% of our patients do, including Kath.

Kath has stayed on our Inpatient Unit twice and will soon be coming in again so that our teams can bring her symptoms under control and she can return home once again where she is cared for primarily by her husband Roy.

"When I first got heard about getting palliative care from the hospice I thought I had cancer and they were not telling me," said Kath.

"When I went to stay on the Inpatient Unit people came to the hospice to see me because they thought I had gone in there to die. But I have been in and come out feeling a lot better. The hospice has helped me to stay at home and I can't praise them enough."

About 11 years ago Kath began suffering breathlessness because of a condition which means her lungs don't function properly.

In March 2017 she went into hospital and then was referred to the hospice.

Our community nursing teams - the Hospice Nurse Specialists and Hospice In Your Home - make regular visits and the Hospice In Your Home team offer carer breaks for a few hours.

She has also had visits from our complementary therapists who have given her a foot massage, which she says made her feel calm and relaxed. Roy also knows that if he needs advice our 24/7 telephone advice line is available.

Kath said: "The support from the hospice really helps us - I have a lot of confidence in them so it means I feel better and Roy knows I'm getting the full care I need. Sometimes your partner can panic because they see what you're going through but the advice line has been a lifeline."

Wigan and Leigh Hospice provided care free of charge for 1,077 people with a life-limiting illness in 2016. We also provided support for those people close to our patients.

We couldn't do any of this without YOUR support. Thank you.



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