It was Louise Eyre’s friend who called Blythe House to make an appointment on her behalf, after she was diagnosed with fibrotic cryptogenic organising pneumonia, an extremely rare form of lung disease.
Louise led a very active lifestyle prior to her diagnosis in January 2012, including ‘walking for miles’ on Duke of Edinburgh trips with students from Chapel-en-le-Frith High School where she was a teaching assistant.
The disease causes inflammation and scarring of the lungs, obstructing the airways making it very difficult to breath. Louise said: ‘Symptoms of my illness came all of a sudden; I just could not breath and was admitted to Stepping Hill Hospital where I stayed for three months before having a biopsy which confirmed my diagnosis. The results of my illness are life changing; I used to be very active but I can hardly do anything anymore.
‘A friend of mine suggested that I should get in touch with Blythe House; up until then I thought Blythe House was only for people with cancer! I came along to meet the nurses, and started to attend the Living Well service in August 2018.
‘I have been overwhelmed by the support from all the staff; I do not know where I would be now without them. I have been able to get involved in art therapy, Tai Chi and have reiki [a complimentary therapy]. All of these things have helped me to stop thinking about my illness all of the time. The activities and treatments give me a reason to want to come to Blythe House every Wednesday to meet people in the same position as myself.
‘I have gained more confidence in dealing with my illness and I have accepted that I am not going to get better. I have been helped in so many ways by staff and other patients, and have been given valued advice about how to manage my life as it is. I did have very bad anxiety before I came to Blythe House but thanks to tools I’ve learnt here, I am able to manage it better.
‘Dr Parnacott [Consultant in Palliative Medicine], who I see at Blythe House in her out-patient clinics, has provided so much help and symptom management support to me. I truly believe if it was not for the help at Blythe House, I would not be here today.’
As well as accessing services at the hospice, Louise has done her fair share of fundraising to help keep them free for local patients like her to access. She took part in the first ever Glow Twilight Walk in July; organised a raffle of Easter hampers alongside dear friend and fellow Blythe House patient, Ann Hampson; and is set to organise another raffle for Christmas very soon.
Louise’s family also took part in the Jingle Bell Jog in December 2018, and her granddaughters are set to raise funds once again at the event on Sunday 1st December this year.
As a result of visiting Dr Parnacott’s clinic, Louise was asked to take part in filming for the hospice’s 30th anniversary commemorative video earlier this year too.
Louise ended: ‘If you’re living with a life-limiting illness in the High Peak, please speak to your doctor about coming to Blythe House, or just get in touch yourself. It has been one of the best things I ever did coming here.’