Natalie's Journey

In 2006, aged 26, Natalie Carney-Heyes, from Ashton, was diagnosed with stage 3b ovarian cancer.

Within weeks, Natalie had investigative surgery, followed by a hysterectomy. For Natalie and her husband Kieran, it was the hysterectomy which devastated them most because, after 6 years together, they were ready to start a family.

"Having the hysterectomy was much worse than the cancer diagnosis and I was an emotional wreck. My family and friends were very supportive but I just couldn't imagine life without having children."

Following the surgery, and a course of chemotherapy at the Christie Hospital, Natalie was in remission for five years. During this time, Natalie and her husband went through the adoption process and were overjoyed to be approved as adoptive parents. In 2011, they were successful in adopting two beautiful little girls.Natalie Carney-Heyes2

Sadly, later that year, Natalie's cancer returned and, in 2013, after ongoing treatment, Natalie was given a terminal prognosis and, in 2014, was referred to the Hospice for pain management and emotional support.

"The words 'Hospice' and 'Palliative' were incredibly frightening and the idea of going to the Hospice was very upsetting. Paula, my Hospice nurse, came to visit me at home initially so I learnt all about the Hospice from a distance and I started to understand what support was available to me."

Earlier this year, Natalie spent two weeks in the Hospice's Inpatient Unit to help her with pain management.

"Staying on the Inpatient Unit was very different to how I imagined and I was so much stronger after my stay. It is a relaxed, supportive and friendly environment. The staff, volunteers and the whole atmosphere are wonderful and it is very homely - so much better than being in hospital.

"The more I engaged with the Hospice, the more services I was able to access and the more doors were open to me."

Natalie recently spent another week in the Hospice and her two girls loved spending time with her there.Natalie Carney-Heyes

"The Hospice is very welcoming for children. It's very private, has beautiful grounds and a conservatory for us to use. The Hospice offers emotional support for the whole family too so they will also benefit from this both now and in the future.

"I feel very strongly about the stigma Hospice's have, as it really shouldn't be there. People are often reluctant to access all the great facilities available to them, as they think it's a place you go to die. Well, it's the complete opposite for me. They don't just help you to die with dignity. They help you to live with it too."

Natalie says her husband Kieran's love and support has been instrumental to her over the years. She is currently receiving further chemo at the Christie to prolong her life and dreams of one day seeing the northern lights and taking her girls to Disneyland.

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