"Life is for living, embrace it and get on with it"
After a relaxing hour of yoga followed by a session of acupuncture, Julia Goddard is feeling refreshed and happy. Complementary therapies have made a difference to Julia’s wellbeing and positive outlook about her life with an incurable illness, since she began her journey with St Helena two years ago. This is Julia’s story…
I love yoga. I love everything about it, it's just so relaxing. I feel good. Everything St Helena has done for me has lifted me. It's really helped me think.
When you say ‘hospice’ to people, they think that's what you're going to die. And it's not the case. Because my daughters have been able to come with me to my sessions, it's not so scary for them either. It's not like, oh I'm going to that place. It's so lovely. If I don't acknowledge it, it will go away I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and after my second lot of chemo I was diagnosed with a secondary in my liver. I was referred to the hospice two years ago. It was such a shock.
When I first heard ‘hospice’, I was so devastated. I'm not very old to be given news like that. For ages and ages I didn't like saying it. I was frightened. I didn't really comprehend what secondary meant. But as soon as they said hospice, I thought that was it, I was going to die. The other day I was thinking, this is a terrible situation to be in but because it's a terrible situation I'm getting to do lots of nice things, and actually now it makes me appreciate things more. It doesn't do to dwell.
When my hospice community nurse first phoned me about coming to see me at home, I did everything I could to put it off because I thought if I don't acknowledge it, it will go away. The first time he came around, my mum and my best friend were there for support. I think all I did was cry. It's all that emotion thinking it's so scary, what's going to happen to me? But he made me feel less apprehensive about the future.
And then the first time I went to St Helena, I was really worried as to what I was going to be walking into, but I was so pleasantly surprised. The first thing I went for was Pilates with my physiotherapist. I didn't know what to expect, and I came out thinking, oh my goodness it's so lovely. It doesn’t feel clinical, it's very family orientated. Everyone is so obliging to do what suits you. It's all about you.
I was really hung up about losing my hair
During my journey with the hospice, I have experienced yoga and acupuncture, I have done mindfulness, reflexology, and Reiki. I'm so grateful for all the help I get. The acupuncture I have been having is because of the secondary cancers. I've been having fatigue, and acupuncture is really good for that. Reflexology is wonderful; they can tell all sorts about you from your feet and it's really relaxing. Yoga is really nice. It’s a small group of us and we’ve all got to know each other. We chat a little bit but then we have to stop and concentrate on what we're doing!
I attended a Look Good, Feel Better session at the hospice [a workshop for women to help with confidence when they have an illness]. The first time I did it was at the hospital when I didn't have hair after chemo, and it was really liberating because other people sat there and threw off their wigs. I wasn't at a stage then where I could do that. I was really hung up about losing my hair. When I was first told I'd got cancer, when they said I've got to have chemotherapy, I didn't care what the cancer was doing; all I was worried about was my hair. I was really hung up about that to start with. I think there is a possibility that at some point I may have to have some more chemotherapy but I'm not worried about my hair now. I think also because I can't see what's going on, and everyone says ‘oh you look so lovely’. I do feel good most of the time, but it is hard.
Life is for living, embrace it and get on with it
I think sometimes people are frightened about what to say to me. Like when someone dies, you don't know what to say to that person, so you don't say anything. But that's worse, not to say anything. I think it's difficult because at the moment I am doing alright so if you didn't know me to look at me you’d think I was alright.
Life is for living, embrace it and get on with it. Complementary therapy has really helped and I do think positively. It helps if you remain as positive as you can because every now and then it gets to you. And I do have up-and-down days. Some days I wake up and I have a big black cloud over me and then that will just pass and I just get on with it. I am so lucky I have great family support, great support from friends, a lot of support from St Helena, and I do lots of things. I am making the best of a bad situation.
You still have to be your own person
Just take one day at a time. It's like a big rollercoaster when you are on your journey. Try to be as positive as possible, but don't be frightened. Talk to people if you need to, take whatever is offered to you, don't be frightened to try things like complementary therapies because you can always stop if you don't like it. When I first had mindfulness I thought, oh my goodness, am I going to do this? But actually I enjoyed it. I look at it differently now, like I do about my hair because that was awful, but that was just emotion and everything bombarding me at once. It's just little steps. And don't be hard on yourself. Make yourself number one priority. Don't do anything you don't want to do, don't try to please other people because actually you need to focus on your own life now. You still have to be your own person but there's no point in doing things to please other people if you don't need to.
Because I've seen St Helena for what it is, it's not that awful place where people go to die. Just see what a good job it's done for me.
Nothing is too much trouble
I remember walking through the hospice garden on my way home after Reiki once. It was a beautiful day in the summer and there were patients outside, and instead of bringing round, tea they were bringing around Pimm’s! I thought that was so wonderful; you wouldn't expect that! I’ve seen someone bring their dog to visit and for that person, that's really good. I wouldn't be fearful if I had to stay in the hospice for respite week.
I have phoned SinglePoint for a few things and they have been magnificent. So if in the future I'm not feeling very well and have to come here, it wouldn't worry me at all. I think because I come for the day, I've got to know quite a few people which makes an awful lot of difference. Nothing is too much trouble. It's a nice environment.
Try to make the best of a bad job I think I've turned a corner in my mental state; once you get over the shock and you calm down, there is nothing you can do about your illness apart from do as you're told with the consultant. So put that to one side, and don't beat yourself up about something you can't do anything about. Try to make the best of a bad job. I've come to that on my own.
That's why I make all my little wool creatures for St Helena. I've made lots of things ready for the Christmas bazaar, like brussel sprouts, Christmas puddings and snowmen. And then I thought it would be really easy to make little sheep and because my sister has a café in the Lake District she puts them on the counter with a donation pot and has raised loads of money. I wanted to do that because it's something that I can do just to give a little bit back.
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
To contact the St Helena Retail team, for enquiries about our shops, donation centre and house clearance service please telephone 01206 890 165.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
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If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566