…I have a visitor coming from work. I am really looking forward to catching up on how things are going. I really miss work. Don’t get me wrong when I am feeling much better being at home is quite a luxury especially when the weather is so hot. I am still awaiting the results of me being able to retire early so that I can make some decisions about my future.

Yesterday I enjoyed my last ( at least for the time being) visit to the hospice. It is where I have been going for my free reflexology sessions. They have really helped me to feel relaxed and cared for. I have come to learn that the hospice is there to help me live when previously I saw them as a place for the dying.

This has got me thinking about what have I really learnt about the NHS from the other side. The list below is based on my experience only.

You have a choice about the hospital you want to receive your care from and you can ask for a second opinion
Being treated at a hospital specialising in your particular illness instilled me with more confidence.
– Environment matters! UCLH Cancer Service has taken great care in ensuring a bright, modern and spotlessly clean environment in which to receive your care. I was particularly impressed by Level 2 where I received my chemotherapy. I think the environment also had a good effect on the staff who worked there.
– The care I received from the nursing teams couldn’t have been better. I was treated as an individual with the utmost respect at all times. The admin staff I came in contact with we’re equally as good. Nothing seemed too much trouble. I saw a few different doctors during my care but they were all as equally caring and knowledgable about my particular case. I felt listened to and encouraged to play a part in my care, discussing different options along my journey. Not forgetting Janet, my trial co-ordinator who has been there at the end of the phone or email, explaining things I might not have first understood or just acting as a listening ear.
– The Macmillan Service has been faultless and extremely helpful to me at times of distress. The UCLH Cancer Centre have their own Macmillan service with staff at hand to listen just when you need it. It has a walk in centre and as soon as you enter the rooms someone is there to greet you and offer you a cup of tea. Relatives and friends are also welcome, this really helped as we all tried to get our heads around the latest news and how to manage with having cancer.
– Closer to home I have also received excellent care from my local Palliative Care team. This included visits and telephone support from my nurse, Louise. She very quickly ensured the drugs I needed were available at the times I needed them, co-ordinating with the hospital and my GP practice. Louise was always highly professional but at the same time friendly and very caring, this instilled both Colin and I with confidence at some very difficult times. Our local hospice doctors and therapists have also been there when we have need their support.

So all in all I have been very impressed by the treatment I have received from our NHS services. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is never going to be easy but it is made so much better to cope with, knowing that these services are out there.

I am trying to rack my brain for any areas that I think could be improved but I must admit it is a bit of a struggle. Perhaps the strength and withdrawal symptoms of the patch I am currently on could have been better explained to me prior to me starting on them. Also the patient portal, which is a fairly new service offered by UCLH, needs some further work as I gave up trying to look up my appointment times or checking up on my results. It was often out of date or the information was wrong or not available, but I expect these are just teething problems.

The sad thing is I don’t think everyone with cancer is as lucky as I have been, to be near to a specialist hospital with an excellent reputation, or perhaps are aware of all the other services available to them locally.

So yet again I am one lucky girl.

Enjoy your day

Deborah x