Mike’s Sunflower Memories Story

‘I am proud to plant a sunflower in Blythe House Hospicecare’s garden to celebrate the memory of my dear wife, Pat. I also wanted to donate towards the wonderful services that supported me in some of my darkest days following Pat’s death, and that continue to support me. ’

Mike Harrison founded the High Peak Prostate Cancer Support Group in 2010 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years earlier. The group meets monthly at Blythe House, chaired jointly by Mike in partnership with members of our dedicated staff team.

As well as being heavily involved in the group for many years now, the Chapel-en-le-Frith resident has also benefitted from other Blythe House services including counselling, the carers support group and complimentary therapies.

Mike was the main carer for his wife Pat for five years before she died in March 2018, and he was able to seek solitude and support at Blythe House.

He explains: ‘When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 I felt very isolated and alone. I didn’t know about the disease or about treatments, and I found it very difficult to get information and advice. I decided that I would like to do something locally to provide information and support to people so they wouldn’t feel as lonely as I did.

‘The High Peak Prostate Cancer Support Group meets monthly and is free to come along to. On average around 20 people attend each sessions, including prostate cancer patients, their wives, girlfriends, partners and carers. Everyone is welcome to come along, for advice, support and friendship.

‘As well as prostate cancer group, I have also benefited hugely from coming along to the hospice’s carers support group. Coming to Blythe House to be able to have the opportunity to relax, unwind, give and receive support from local people in similar situations to myself was so worthwhile and made me feel so much less isolated. I felt better for coming to the group.

‘Following Pat’s death, and after all of the important tasks were complete like registering her death and organising the funeral, I honestly did wake up one morning and wonder what on earth I was going to do with myself, and what my purpose in life was anymore. Grief has been so very painful, I’ve been in some very dark places but Blythe House has been absolutely immense.

‘I’ve been having counselling sessions and they have given me my quality of life back. I have been able to speak the unspoken, and get stuff off my chest. The sessions have really helped me to rediscover what my life is and how to enjoy it again.’

Mike and Pat share four sons, who now live both locally and internationally with their respective families – he’s a proud grandparent to 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren!

He said: ‘I have a son who lives in New Zealand and so I thought “I am going to go and see my family! If they’ll have me of course!” So I enjoyed some quality time with him, as well as my granddaughter who lives in Japan on my way home. It was fantastic!

‘My story epitomises what Blythe House can offer to everyone – I am living proof for both patients and carers; Blythe House has been family to me, and has saved my life.’

Make a donation today to celebrate the life of someone you love whilst supporting Blythe House Hospicecare. Your personalised sunflower plaque will be planted in our garden for the month of May.

You can donate by calling the fundraising team on 01298 815 388, or via Just Giving on the link below. You can also pick up a form at Blythe House Reception, or any one of our hospice shops:

  • Buxton – 6 Eagle Parade, SK17 6EQ
  • Chapel-en-le-Frith, 12 High Street, SK23 0HD
  • New Mills – 3 Union Road, SK22 3EL
  • Whaley Bridge – 17-19 Market Street, SK23 7AA

Alternatively, download your own copy of the form at home, print, fill in and return to us via the address given: Sunflower Memories Appeal form PDF

 

‘The Glow Twilight Walk is an exciting event that all members of the family can take part in. It is vital that local people support this event.

I know from my personal experience with having breast cancer, the fantastic help and support that goes on at Blythe House. I passionately feel it deserves all the support we can give it, so please sign up to take part and help raise funds for this fantastic hospice.’

Ann was looking forward to a fresh start with her husband, Ian when she moved to the High Peak from Stockport in February 2018. As they struggled to relocate furniture and belongings during the relentless Beast from the East, Ann became unwell with a sore throat, aches and pains, and she discovered she had shingles.

Ann with husband, Ian

After some time off work whilst moving house and being unwell, Ann went for a regular mammogram check-up at Macclesfield District General Hospital and within two weeks she found out that she had a 4.5cm tumour in her breast.

Ann had a mastectomy in May 2018, and though the operation went well, she then had to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy to kill off small traces of the cancerous cells still in her lymph glands.

The Chapel-en-le-Frith resident explains: ‘My best friend Margaret moved to the new housing estate in Chapel and after a few visits to her and some discussions with my husband, we decided to make the move too so that we could be closer to the countryside. We were really looking forward to a fresh start and to enjoying our new life in the High Peak. My breast cancer diagnosis a few weeks after the move changed our lives.

‘After undergoing my operation and chemo, my boss and friend, Anne-Marie told me about Blythe House and encouraged me to find out more. I had the total wrong impression of the hospice and thought it was a little hospital where people came to die. I was incredibly nervous; I am not a confident person anyway, but especially being in a new area with only a few friends.

‘One day I was at home on my own as my husband was out at work and I decided to have a walk round to Blythe House. I was milling around outside too frightened to go in and one of the nurses, Liza, was walking in behind me and asked if she could help. She brought me through the doors and from that day on, it is the best thing I ever did. My husband could not believe I had the courage to walk round here in the first place!

‘Everyone here is such a big part of my life; if I hadn’t have come to Blythe House, I would have been in a different place. We all have different experiences and diagnoses but we can all chat and relate to each other. Coming here has changed me as a person; at one stage I wouldn’t have even spoken to share my story.’

Ann is due to go back to work in pharmacy production at Stepping Hill Hospital in April, as she continues her recovery and her prognosis looks good.

She says: ‘Blythe House has been a big part of my life and I’m going to miss so many people. I’ll continue to come to the monthly coffee mornings and attend the Breast Friends support group, to be able to support the hospice and catch up with friends. I also hope to raise money alongside Margaret and my two sons, Mark and Adam.’

Find out more about the Glow Twilight Walk

Sign up now

Blythe House Hospicecare was founded in 1989 after local resident, Stan Blythe left a £1,000 legacy to Reverend Betty Packham.

We would love for you to help us celebrate 30 years of hospice care in the High Peak by hosting us a party!

It doesn’t matter what you do, how you do it or where you do it, it’s who you do it with that matters and the fact you are supporting your local hospice, Blythe House Hospicecare.

Please download our fundraising pack request form, fill it in and return it to Blythe House. We will then be able to send you your 30th birthday fundraising pack!

Download a request form

Read more about the history of Blythe House