June was referred to Blythe House in June 2021, after she had developed peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in her hands and feet due to the course of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. June attends Therapeutic Thursdays at the hospice and has received physio and occupational therapy.

June – right – with Cathy, hospice, volunteer

The Buxworth resident said: ‘I cannot thank Blythe House enough for the support they have given me and my family. When I think back to last summer, where I was in a really tough place physically and mentally, effectively bed bound, to where I am now, it goes to show how essential Blythe House is as a local charity. Now I have more and more independence gained from the valuable support Blythe House gave to me.

‘I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2020. My course of treatment was chemotherapy. A common side effect to chemotherapy is losing your nerve sensitivity. I didn’t immediately have this side effect. I started getting the tingling sensation at around ten to 11 weeks of chemo. Within three weeks of the initial tingling sensation, I could no longer walk.

‘I got to the point where being stuck in my bedroom was leaving my mental health in a really bad place. My niece decided I needed additional help. I was receiving the necessary medication from the district nurses, but this was about gaining my independence back again. This is when we reached out to Blythe House for help.

‘When the Community Hub team visited me at my house, I had immediate trust with them. They were so kind and patient with me. I didn’t feel like the same person pre-chemotherapy treatment. I had lost a lot of weight from my cancer treatment and the nerve damage had left me with no strength.

‘There were immediate changes by the initial visit and assessment of my home; I was hopeful that they would be able to help. They sorted out equipment for me, so I could move around my house more easily and to support my carers. This was a huge change that enabled me to get out of my bedroom more easily. I was given an exercise programme which gave me the strength to eat my dinner myself.

‘When my physical strength improved, it meant that I could start going to events and seeing friends who I had sorely missed. When I could see the daily improvements from my physio and occupational therapy, I started thinking more about my self-care.

‘I now go to Therapeutic Thursdays at the hospice, which gives me a chance to meet other people who are going through something similar to me and gives my partner a break.’

Miriam Haddock, occupational therapist at Blythe House who has worked closely with June during her rehabilitation for the past year, added: ‘When we first met June back in the summer of 2021 we could see how physically and mentally her cancer treatment had affected her.

‘Our focus is “what matters to you”, and for June she no longer had her independence. She has done whatever we have asked and been so motivated. June is like a different person; so much more confident. Her mood has lifted, and she seems to be enjoying life much more.’

John Clark from Litton used our Hospice at Home service at the end of his life. Sheffield born and bred, John loved being outdoors and was passionate about caring for his animals. In 1971, John met Susan; they married the same year and had their first child, Simon. Three years later, Emma was born.

Emma made contact with the hospice in 2021, when she was in urgent need of support to get her father discharged from hospital quickly. He needed end of life care after having a stroke three weeks earlier. She needed support to fulfil her father’s only wish: to die at home. Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust made this possible.

Bakewell resident, Emma, explains: ‘Words don’t seem enough to show my gratitude to Blythe House and Helen’s Trust for helping us during one of the most difficult times of our lives as a family. My Dad was admitted into hospital after suffering a severe stroke that left him unable to speak. Dad hated medical intervention; he would visit the doctors to have blood test for his diabetes, but other than that, he would limit his visits as much as possible. When my Dad was admitted into hospital it was clear that he found being there really scary and disorientating. He just wanted to come home. He spent just over three weeks there and in that time he did not recover from his stroke, so it was vital that I got him home.

‘In 2014, my Mum was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and in 2019 my Dad became my mum’s full time carer after she had a serious fall. When you have Parkinson’s, it’s important to have a routine and a schedule to take your medication. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we were only able to visit my Dad in hospital for one hour a day at a set time. This set time was when my Mum would usually rest. My Mum was exhausted when visiting my Dad. My Dad couldn’t verbalise it, but he was clearly distressed being in hospital and was worried about my Mum. Another reason why I had to get him home.

‘I got in contact with the hospice about getting a care package in place and speaking to the Hospice at Home team gave me so much reassurance. Every step of the way their response to my worries and questions was “yes we can help, yes we can do that.” It got to the point that Blythe House and Helen’s Trust were the only ones I could trust every step of the way.

‘When we were able to get my Dad discharged from the hospital, we got him settled at home in his own bed. That Sunday night, Hayley arrived from Blythe House and Helen’s Trust. As much as I could look after my Dad, I wasn’t confident in keeping him safe; he was so frail and I worried I may hurt him when moving to change his clothes or helping him sit upright. Hayley did everything: it was nursing care that I had never experienced. Not only did she care for him, she spent time with him and was so respectful. I don’t know where Hayley came from, but to me she was an angel we had been waiting for.

‘Hayley gave my Dad his dignity at the worst of times. I trusted her as soon as she walked through the door – there is no-one that I would have trusted more and we knew she understood what we needed to get my Dad’s end of life care right.

‘After the first Sunday visit, my Dad deteriorated rapidly and on the Monday night and he was in a lot of pain. We weren’t expecting Hayley until the Wednesday evening, but I was desperate for the support. Initially, I didn’t have anyone for Tuesday night, I needed help and the hospice came to the rescue again. Hayley came that Tuesday evening and stayed there during the most difficult time for him; she was an incredible support for me and my mum- nothing was too much. My Dad died peacefully on Thursday morning, the 16th September 2021. Hayley made our lasting memory of him a peaceful one.

‘It was immeasurable the amount of care and consideration that the Hospice at Home team gave to us. There is nothing I would change about Blythe House and Helen’s Trust, except that I wish I’d known about them sooner. The service is amazing and people’s end of life care is so important, you only have one chance at getting it right. I am so grateful that Blythe House and Helen’s Trust was there.’

Find out more about our Hospice at Home service.

‘Without the hospice, I would not have survived. They helped me to keep my Dad in his own home; where he wanted to be, and that was the best thing I could have wished for.

‘I am so proud to plant a sunflower in memory of my beloved dad and step-mum – to honour their memories and to support the invaluable work of Blythe House and Helen’s Trust.’

Sandra

Sandra, who is a district nurse with the Bakewell and Baslow Team for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, regularly refers her own patients to our Hospice at Home service, for palliative and end of life care in their own homes.

The service has now been able to support Sandra’s own family, after supporting her step mother, Lillian to die peacefully at home in February 2021, and then to Sandra’s dad, John, before he sadly died in October.

Sandra, who’s from Youlgreave, said: ‘Lillian’s illness progressed very quickly – she became symptomatic in October 2020, and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Lillian was a healthcare assistant during her career, so she knew what was coming; things really started to escalate from Christmas and she was in and out of hospital.

‘Prior to her illness, Lillian was Dad’s full-time support and they had been married for 23 years. As well as heart failure, Dad has also been diagnosed with kidney failure and he too, has had cancer in the past. Dad was very independent and could do a lot of things for himself, but Lillian would help him to dress and get him ready for bed. Sometimes during the night, Dad would wake up disorientated and Lillian was always there to say “go back to sleep, John.”

‘My husband and I moved in to support them both when Lillian became too unwell. Her illness was a huge shock to everyone as she was fiercely independent. During the last week of her life, I called upon Blythe House and Helen’s Trust to see if they could step in to provide night-time sits. The sits supported my husband and I to go back home and have a change of scenery, get a good nights’ rest and to enable me to cope with the day-time care for them both.

‘Lillian did have, what I would call, a “perfect death.” I am a big believer in having a good death, in my role as a district nurse. She looked beautiful; she wasn’t agitated or in pain. It was the best it could have been.

John and Lillian

‘After Lillian died, Blythe House and Helen’s Trust started to provide respite night-time care for Dad. The night-time sits provided by the hospice helped me to have much-needed time out, go home, have a change of scenery and a full night’s sleep. The hospice team was so flexible; they always accommodated my working pattern and spaced out the sits depending on my shifts, so that I was not exhausted.

‘The continuity of care for Dad was just fantastic; all the healthcare assistants developed a therapeutic relationship with Dad and he enjoyed the rapport and their company. We also had support from a hospice community volunteer called Charlie. He visited to chat to Dad, or read to him. The visits gave me chance to go out and do shopping, walk Dad’s dog, Patch, or catch up with jobs at home; knowing Dad was in very safe hands.

‘In July, we went to Norfolk on a big family holiday – it was fantastic, and I will always treasure the measures. In September, Dad could no longer stand and I knew it was the beginning of the end for him. The whole family railed to support him. My sister and daughter, who are both nurses, and my stepsister, Marion (Lillian’s daughter), provided lots of support.

‘On the 1st of October, the Hospice at Home healthcare assistant, Kevin, called me at 6am and said that Dad’s breathing had changed. The whole family went to his bedside, where we chatted, reminisced and laughed. Later on, I said “come on Dad, go to sleep now.” He died peacefully in his own bed, surrounded by his family later that afternoon. I feel I did everything I could for him and I can live with myself that Dad had a good death.

‘Afterwards, we had a collection for Blythe House and Helen’s Trust at Dad’s funeral, and much of his home furniture and clothes went to the hospice’s charity shops. Without the hospice, I would not have survived. They helped me to keep my Dad in his own home; where he wanted to be, and that was the best thing I could have wished for.’

Dedicate a sunflower today.

Find out more about our Hospice at Home service and how it could support your family.

Learn more about supporting the hospice including donating to our local shops and organising a funeral collection in aid of Blythe House and Helen’s Trust.

The #GoBlueForBlytheHouse campaign is open to everyone including schoolchildren, students, work colleagues, and members of the public, who can choose any day throughout March 2022 to celebrate the local charity and fundraise for Blythe House and Helen’s Trust.

The local charity provides care for patients with a life-limiting illness across the High Peak, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire. The hospice offers service such as counselling and bereavement support to family members of patients with a life-limiting illness who have used the hospice services.

Oscar, a boy who lives in the High Peak area, was referred to Blythe House children’s bereavement counselling services after his ‘Nan-nan’ used Blythe House and Helen’s Trust services. Oscar’s parents became concerned about how he may be dealing with his Nan’s death when he started having panic attacks and having fears of his own death.

Ray Leech, our Young Person’s Counsellor explains ‘For children, like Oscar, they don’t always show obvious signs of their grieving process. For Oscar his way of understanding his grief was to transfer his anxieties to something physical as he didn’t know how to express his worries.’

Oscar’s mum explains ‘We were honest with Oscar about how poorly his Nan-Nan was and he seemed like he was managing to understand the news. He seemed to be managing, but then he started to get chest pains. As a parent I took this very seriously and took him immediately to the doctors. He was checked over and the doctors gave him the all clear.’

‘A couple of days later he started having chest pains again and this time round he was convinced he was dying. It was so distressing for us as parents having our child convinced that they were going to die. I was desperate and I knew I needed help. My boy was not okay and it breaks your heart as a parent when you can’t fix it.’

‘I rang Blythe House and they referred me to the children’s counselling services. I couldn’t believe it, after one visit we saw a dramatic improvement and my boy was starting to be himself again. We went from five panic attacks a day to none. I don’t know what I would have done without the help of Blythe House and Helen’s Trust. As a parent you want to do the best you can for your children. It gives me so much reassurance to know that we have given Oscar the right support for him. You can either stay in grief or move forward. I know that Oscar’s future is protected and he’s no longer trapped in his grief.’

By joining by fundraising in the #GoBlue campaign as little as £25 it can pay for a child to have a memory box to keep treasured possessions safe of the person they are remembering or you could fundraise a little more than £360 to pay for a full 12-week course of counselling for a bereaved child to help them come to terms with their loss.

Put the ‘fun’ into fundraising and #GoBlue in any way imaginable. Local businesses and other organisations might like to get involved by dressing in blue, holding a blue prize raffle or decorating their shop windows or office space. People may also have bigger ideas to organise an event like a blue coffee morning or blue-themed party!

Joy Stephenson’s husband, Chas started to attend Blythe House following his diagnosis with a rare form of blood cancer. Joy was also offered carers support from the hospice, before Chas sadly died in January 2021 after receiving Hospice at Home care.

Joy, from Hayfield, explains: ‘Chas and I met as students and our first date was when he asked me to go for a walk after dinner while we were on a geology field trip in Tenby – the rest is history as they say! We were 20, and married four years later in Aylesbury where we were both working and went on to have three lovely children. We later moved, first to Warwickshire and eventually in 1972, to High Peak, where we brought up our children and have lived here ever since. We celebrated our diamond wedding in April last year but sadly, Covid and Chas’ health problems, meant it was not the big family affair we would have hoped for. He was part of my life for more than 65 years – we couldn’t have dreamt all those years ago that we would be so fortunate.

‘Chas had a variety of apparently unrelated health problems over a period of several years before a routine blood test, ordered by his dermatologist, led to a diagnosis of myelodysplasia [a rare form of blood cancer] early in 2015, followed about three years later by a diagnosis of vascular dementia. The dementia diagnosis was surprising because he didn’t fit the normal profile of a sufferer – he didn’t smoke and was extremely fit and active – a long distance walker and fell runner. He was never happier than when he was out roaming over Kinder Scout and the wider Peak District. He was still walking long distances most days until about two years before he died – not being able to be out on the hills was so frustrating for him but he continued to walk locally most days for as long as he could.

‘Following the blood cancer diagnosis, Chas became increasingly transfusion dependent and any knocks which caused bleeding meant frequent trips to A&E for platelet transfusions to stop the bleeding. Eventually it became clear that he was not benefitting as much as he might from his blood transfusions but he needed to make the decision to stop for himself. I found it difficult to broach the question of when is enough, enough and he always sidestepped any attempts to discuss end of life care with me.

‘Two people came to the rescue: firstly the consultant at the hospital who was able to ask, and get a thoughtful response. He arranged for Chas to sign a ‘do not resuscitate’ DNR form, and then the wonderful Dr Sarah Parnacott who was able to have a good conversation with us and fill in a ReSPECT [Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment] with him, with his end of life wishes clearly stated. Essentially, this meant being cared for, and dying, at home.

‘The hospital consultant made the referral to Blythe House; and then followed almost two years of what I can only describe as an amazing and wonderful partnership between us and the marvellous staff at the hospice. I won’t pretend that it was always easy – initially we weren’t sure what to expect and it isn’t easy handing over so much of your life to other people, and to allow them to take such an intimate part in your lives. However, we were immediately given a warm welcome. At the beginning, Chas was quite resistant to going: “I don’t see why I have to go there?” But, he always enjoyed his time there and I could have a few hours to myself knowing than he was such good hands.

‘One really good thing was the opportunity for him to spend some quality time in the company of other men and the chance for a good natter. Not only was Chas pampered, but my needs were also being cared for – a chance to talk about my worries and concerns, and the offer of complementary therapy, so I was able to have some relaxing pampering too. We very quickly came to realise that the whole ethos was to meet the needs of us both, and to anticipate when that help needed to be stepped up.

‘I think the most difficult thing was when to accept the offer for that support to come directly into the home. Inviting strangers into your home to take over much of the caring role was hard. On the one hand, I felt I was abdicating responsibility and I wasn’t sure what to expect. On the other hand, I was becoming exhausted and realised that I was struggling to cope. I shouldn’t have worried; the carers were so experienced and sensitive to our needs and they became welcome friends and always seemed to know exactly what was needed. More importantly, I came to understand and welcome their input, especially when they always seemed to know the right time to step up the amount of care we needed; I never needed to ask. Night care became the next issue, our nights were becoming increasingly disturbed and it was difficult to see how it would work, but of course, I shouldn’t have worried. At first, it was one or two nights a week but this gradually needed to be increased as Chas’ condition worsened and then we came to rely on it.

‘So what do the Hospice at Home healthcare assistants do? The answer is everything and anything that is going to help all the family. At its most basic, helping with washing, showering and dressing, and then helping to get ready for bed. But it becomes much more than that; applying ointments and creams, changing beds, dealing with washing, preparing food and then feeding if necessary.

‘Their advice becomes invaluable – especially on helping to adjust to a constantly changing situation and above all making sure that I was ok. This became an issue for us as I started to develop health problems of my own and they were there for me too. They delivered all this care with compassion, sheer hard work, friendship, love and, so often, much-needed good humour. Above all, they allowed Chas to maintain as much dignity as possible and to die at home surrounded by love with me and my daughter beside him.

‘Does this do them justice? Probably not! I can’t find the words to express what they meant to us. The family and I will never forget them, and will be forever in their debt. Thank you.’

Find out more about our services and how they could support your family.

Stanley, 10, and Lydia, 6, from Chapel-en-le-Frith started to attend bereavement play therapy sessions at Blythe House in late 2020, after their Daddy, Stuart tragically took his own life.

Lydia, Stanley and Stuart

Lisa, Stanley and Lydia’s Mum, explains: ‘Myself, the children and all the family were devastated by the news of Stuart’s death. I didn’t know how to deliver the news to Stanley and Lydia about their Daddy, but I sought support from Winston’s Wish [a charity that Blythe House works closely with and uses resources from]. The charity provided a book to help me to understand how to explain what had happened to Stuart.

‘Later on that year, several family members and friends suggested I contact Blythe House for some counselling support for the children. Stanley started to attend first, with Lydia beginning sessions not long after. They both just absolutely loved coming here, and made really good bonds with their counsellors.

‘The pair of them brought items to their sessions to show to the counsellors and to talk about, for example teddy bears made from Stuart’s shirts, and cushions that I got them for Christmas with his photograph on them.

‘Stanley really embraced the arts and crafts element of his play therapy sessions. Art was never one of his main “strengths” but he has loved making things that remind him of his Dad. He’s drawn things, made a sand jar with different coloured layers representing different memories, and filled out an activity book called Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine, made especially for bereaved children.

‘He was studying space at school, and during one of his sessions, Stanley made a rocket out of play dough. His counsellor, Annabel asked him questions like “If this rocket could go to visit Daddy, what would it say?”

‘Before he started the counselling sessions, Stanley had feelings of anger and struggled to express his emotions. Annabel supported Stanley to find strategies for how to cope, and now, he seems so much better and much more content.

‘Lydia loved her sessions with her counsellor, Rachel. She made keyrings with coloured sands and enjoyed playing with the doll’s house. I think Lydia just loved having free rein of the play room and enjoyed being able to do what she wanted to in that space.

Lisa with Lydia and Stanley

‘When the children finished their programmes, the counsellors gave them presents including Easter eggs and other treats. It was such a lovely gesture and we were so grateful.

‘We’ve never gone through grief, but as a family we are getting through it together. We haven’t been afraid to share our feelings. The situation has obviously been made much worse with the pandemic and the lockdowns. We haven’t been able to see our family and friends as normal, but we’ve been keeping in touch as much as possible.

‘I truly feel if the children hadn’t have been able to continue going to school – having that routine and seeing their friends – and coming to Blythe House, that they wouldn’t be doing as well as they are doing now. Christmas time was hard, as it’s Stanley’s birthday the week before too, but we made sure to speak about Stuart during Christmas Day with his parents, and we all had a lovely day, despite the sadness of his absence.

‘To other parents or carers of children who may need support, the first thing I’d say is contact Blythe House in a heartbeat. I can’t big up the hospice enough, and I know they’ve had an amazing time. It’s an outstanding, invaluable local service and I feel so grateful and lucky that it’s on our doorstep.’

(Cover photo is artwork created by Lydia during her counselling sessions).

Find out more about our counselling and bereavement support services for both adults and children.

Jackie’s husband Rob was first introduced to Blythe House in 2019 after finding out the previous year that advanced prostate cancer had sadly spread to his bones. Rob gained one-to-one advice and support at first, but as his health deteriorated, he began receiving care in the comfort of his own home.

His wife, Jackie, explains more: ‘After struggling on with severe back pain for some time, seeing a GP and a physiotherapist, Rob was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in spring 2018. Unfortunately, the cancer had metastasised and spread into his bones.

‘I persuaded him to go to Blythe House, where he had face-to-face meetings with Karen Clayton [hospice nurse], who he had a huge amount of respect for. He also attended the hospice’s monthly coffee mornings where he’d chat to Karen and receive valuable advice. On two different occasions, I found myself struggling or at the end of my tether and I just walked round to Blythe House and ended up speaking to Karen, and Louise Furmston, [community engagement lead], who were both fantastic. Blythe House is not just for people who are ill; carers and family members needn’t be afraid of reaching out for support.

‘Rob did really well throughout 2018, but around Christmastime, he became really ill; started getting pains in his shoulder and had episodes when he was unable to move. During 2019, he was in and out of hospital and in April 2020, at the height of the first national COVID-19 lockdown, he had a very severe episode and our doctor recommended Hospice at Home support from Blythe House.

‘The team sorted us out completely because we just couldn’t cope physically. They arranged to visit us twice a day in the mornings and evenings, to help wash and dress Rob or get him ready for bed. He recovered a little bit and we decided that we didn’t need the evening sits anymore, but healthcare assistants still came every morning.

‘It is a very lonely feeling seeing the person who you’ve lived with for more than 50 years deteriorate so quickly and become so frail. Rob was a very active and independent man – he did decorating, plastering, plumbing, electrics, DIY. He found the limitations caused by his illness very frustrating and upsetting. It was lovely to have different people come into our home, and for Rob to have someone, other than me, who he could chat to, as we were unable to see friends and family because of COVID. It was also great for me because it gave me much-needed time out as a full-time carer, and different people to talk to about worries or concerns.

‘I can’t begin to imagine how we’d have coped without Hospice at Home. I am quite tough-skinned but I sat and cried privately on many occasions because I just didn’t know how we’d have managed. It was just wonderful to know someone was there. Dr Sarah Parnacott [consultant in palliative medicine], was amazing. I text her one morning with a query regarding Rob’s medication; she replied straight away, and an hour later she was on my doorstep.

‘On the morning that Rob died, Julie, one of the healthcare assistants, had been round to shower and care for him. After she left, I went outside to hang some washing when I heard an almighty crash. I found him in a heap at the bottom of the stairs and called an ambulance straight away. I wasn’t allowed to go in the ambulance with Rob to hospital due to COVID-19, but after advice from Dr Parnacott, we had completed a ReSPECT [Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment] form and this was passed to the paramedics. Soon after, I received a call from a team member at Stepping Hill who informed me that Rob had become unconscious in the ambulance; he asked me to get there as soon as I could.

‘When I arrived at hospital, I had a chat with the consultant who told me that Rob had multiple catastrophic injuries and we decided not to lift his sedation. He quietly slipped away on the 30th August 2020. As tragic as his death was, I knew that it was the best thing. He was so miserable and frightened about what would happen to him over the coming weeks.

‘We have always been very healthy people – we didn’t do doctors, surgeries or help – so it hadn’t occurred to us to seek help from Blythe House. If it wasn’t for our doctor, and the hospice team saying “you can do this/ you can have this,” we wouldn’t have known. It would not have occurred to us to say “help!” without someone prodding us. What I’d say to other people who may be in a similar situation to ours, is just to be aware of the amazing services on offer at Blythe House; don’t hold back from asking for help. It’s not just the palliative and end of life care, but genuine advice and support too.

‘I’d like to say huge thank yous all round; we could not have managed without Blythe House; there was always someone to talk to, and to provide such important care and support.’

Find out more about our hospice services.

Blythe House and Helen’s Trust are delighted to have secured three places in the 2021 virtual London Marathon event set to take place on Sunday 3rd October. To find out more about how to get involved, click here.

Charlie Narejko took on the 40th anniversary and first ever virtual London Marathon in 2020 in aid of Blythe House, raising hundreds of pounds for local hospice care and becoming a Guinness World Record Holder in the process! (The final finishing total of 37,966 runners meant that the event was awarded the prestigious title for the ‘most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours’).

Charlie, who’s a member of Buxton Athletic Club, explains more: ‘Running the virtual London Marathon was just the best experience. I was one of just over 37,000 awesome people from all walks of life to tackle the unbelievable distance. Thanks to the virtual event, I am now a Guinness World Record Holder for taking part which is amazing!

‘You don’t need to be an athlete to run a marathon, you just need to be awesome! Celebrate the finish line not the finish time. You do not have to run, you can walk, jog, run or whatever, just get the distance your way! The perks of a virtual event is no crowds – it’s your race! I chose to run mine around the beautiful Pavilion Gardens, all 26 laps.

‘I was running in memory of Buxton Athletic Club’s Jim Bradley so the Gardens were perfect. Home of our monthly timed 5k race. I’m sure Jim would have been proud. I even had a small socially distanced support crew to cheer me round!

‘I chose to support Blythe House as what they do and offer to our local community is truly amazing! Now more than ever our local hospice charity needs all the support it can get. By running the virtual event, you’re helping yourself, and you’re getting fitter. You’re also helping raise much needed funds for your local hospice and along the way you’re inspiring others to do the same!

‘If I can do this, anyone can! I loved it so much that I’m doing it again this year. Not all heroes wear capes…some wear Blythe house running vests!’

John Mountain started to attend Blythe House’s monthly prostate cancer support group in 2018, after he was diagnosed with the condition. Alongside other health issues, the Chapel-en-le-Frith resident has sought support from the hospice’s community volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, John explains more:

‘My Partner and I knew about Blythe House from its early planning stages back in the 1980s, but I started to get support and information approximately three years ago after I had been diagnosed with low grade, early stage prostate cancer, and began attending the support group meetings.

‘After discussions with other group members I decided on a treatment called brachytherapy (a form of radiation therapy), where small radioactive pellets approximately the size of grains of rice are implanted directly into the prostate, under a general anaesthetic. The surgery was successful and I was allowed home after an overnight stay. It was really helpful to discuss matters with people who had wide-ranging knowledge of the condition and had undergone the same treatment, which I would recommend to anyone who was suitable.

‘Prior to the prostate cancer diagnosis, I had also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease approximately six to seven years ago, which is being controlled reasonably well with medication.

‘I was also suffering mobility issues with spinal disc problems. I was seen at Salford Royal Hospital, and put on the list for some injections but with the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, everything was put on hold. The spinal issues got worse, affecting my mobility and I decided to pay for surgery, which was carried out in September and my mobility is slowly improving.

‘I sought support from Blythe House’s community volunteers during my recovery phase. All volunteers I have spoken to have been great; very helpful and friendly, and I know I can always rely on the service. Things would have been very different without their help in getting prescriptions collected from the pharmacy and delivered to my home.

‘For anyone who has difficulties and needs some help, I would recommend they get in touch with Blythe House where they will find all the help and advice they need.’

Find out more about how Blythe House could support you or your family.