Why should you enter The Great Shakespeare Ride?
As well as being a fantastic ride through the beautiful Warwickshire and Cotswolds countryside, The Great Shakespeare Ride raises money for The Shakespeare Hospice.
The Hospice helps over 800 people each year such as Suzanne, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told us her story…
“I first contacted the Shakespeare Hospice after losing my parents. My mum Joyce died very suddenly from a rare form of Leukaemia eight years ago. Mum appeared very fit and healthy and although she was in her seventies she was very fit and active and played tennis most days of her life. In August she became poorly and we thought she had the flu as there had been a bad strain going round, but it wasn’t the flu and three weeks later she wasn’t here. This was such a shock and such a difficult thing to come to terms with.
Dad had been poorly for some time and although he put a brave face on he found it difficult without mum. After a few months of mum passing away and as dad’s health declined I gave up work to care for him. John, my Dad passed away 15 months after mum. Losing both parents so close together and no longer having the job I loved proved to be a very difficult time for me. Through the Hospice I was introduced to a lovely councillor who helped me considerably. I also decided to volunteer for the Hospice at this time in the fundraising department.
During the time I was receiving counselling I talked to a friend of mine who had been through breast cancer treatment. Having not checked myself previously I decided to do so and thought I could feel a small lump deep in my breast, but was concerned I was over-reacting due to my friend’s condition. Both my doctor and the Registrar at the hospital could not physically detect a lump, so I was lulled into a false sense of wellbeing, to the point that I was feeling like I was wasting the hospital’s time. However, I was sent for a mammogram and when a lump showed up, and after a scan and biopsy it was confirmed that I had stage 3 breast cancer I had that feeling of shock all over again. Counselling from the Hospice was so helpful during this time as it felt like my world was falling apart. Initially I just thought ‘I’m going to die’.
Things happened very fast – I had lymph gland removal and a lumpectomy within a couple of weeks, returning for a second operation a week later to clear the margins and subsequently went on to have Chemotherapy treatment. Life was a whirlwind and my mind felt the same. I learned from a lady in the next chair to me who was having Chemotherapy that the Shakespeare Hospice were able to help with relaxing Reflexology or Aromatherapy treatments. I didn’t feel as if I was ill enough to take the place of someone who perhaps was poorlier than me and so it wasn’t until I was further persuaded that I eventually contacted the Shakespeare Hospice to ask if I was entitled to a treatment.
I started to attend on a Wednesday and doing so gave me an invaluable opportunity to talk to other people going through the same experiences. The Diversional Therapy area (which we jokingly called ‘the naughty corner’) where we did crafts and painting was the area it felt easiest to relax and chat to people about what we were all going through. Every time I attended I had a chat with one of the nurses which gave me the opportunity to talk to about my physical health and any problems. The nurses always had time and were very patient and tried to help in any way they could. There was also access to a Physiotherapist if required as well as Chaplain, and we always had a healthy lunch and a wonderful treatment of Aromatherapy or Reflexology kindly administered by a qualified therapist who volunteered their time. The treatments made me feel like I was floating on a cloud – it helped so much with the stress and strain of coping with the cancer diagnosis, the practicalities of the condition and the physical debilitation of the treatments. One of the worst things for a woman is to lose your hair due to Chemotherapy treatment. It seemed strange to me that I would be concerned about my physical appearance so much when my health was the most important thing, but with the support of the Shakespeare Hospice I came to realise that I was not alone in this thinking, and that the physical appearance of hair loss is one of the hardest things for a woman to cope with. I had to go on to have Radiotherapy and the Shakespeare Hospice supported me through all of these difficult times.
I continued to have some counselling, again from a professional councillor who kindly donated her time and this helped enormously to rebuild my self-confidence. Through talking about my abilities and in making some future plans I was encouraged to start a Floristry course, which I did (whilst wearing my wig) and it helped me immensely to rebuild my life. For a long time I yearned to go back to the me before the cancer diagnosis, but after a lot of thinking and soul-searching I realised that I was never going to be that person again, and I came up with this phrase, ‘I’ll never go back to the person I was but I can go forward to the person I want to be’ and I now I look to today and the future, I try not to put things off for too long that I want to do and through the floristry course I now do very individual bespoke flowers for weddings, funerals and parties.
Although many people don’t realise that The Shakespeare Hospice is a day hospice, not a hospice with beds caring for people at end of life – that is done through the Hospice at Home team – there is such a huge range of services that the Shakespeare Hospice provide including services for children and carers. I would encourage everyone to support the Shakespeare Hospice as sadly it’s likely that you or someone in your life – a friend, colleague or member of the family – will be touched by cancer at some point and it’s vital to keep this amazing supportive service going. As I was lucky enough to not have been too tired and physically poorly during my treatments I didn’t think at the time that I was poorly enough to need the help of the Hospice but looking back I realise that I needed the psychological help and support as much as anything, and I would recommend anyone going through cancer diagnosis or treatment to get in touch with them.
Five years on I am now in remission, I have had a few reconstruction operations and I continue to fundraise and support the Shakespeare Hospice in return for their help in supporting me.”Back to News