After being diagnosed with a terminal illness at the age of 29, Saima shares her experiences of Hospice in the Weald’s services.
“I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer after experiencing some back pain. We never considered that it might be any sort of terminal illness. The doctors and I were horrified, it’s extremely rare for someone to be diagnosed with this condition at my age.
After my diagnosis I was in a state of total shock. I thought, ‘this happens to other people, to older people, not to me’. This has changed our lives forever. I was looking forward to my thirties and getting to know myself better, and now my life is going to be shortened significantly.
The two greatest joys in my life are food and family. I own a restaurant and I am passionate about (some might say obsessed with!) food. And I am very family orientated, I adore my mum and my sisters. I enjoy the things that most people my age enjoy - I like exercise, nature, holidays, and spending time with my husband Gareth. We are recently married.
Gareth and I got married just four months after my diagnosis. We needed that celebration as something to look forward to after such life-changing news.
My life has changed forever. I have had to take a step back from everything, which is so difficult. I’m still a young person, I’m used to running around and running a business. It was a real battle in itself to accept that I cannot not do all that I want to. I’m still coming to terms that this is the case for the rest of my life.
Now, my aim is to live well. I’ve been using the Hospice services to achieve this, and they have helped me piece myself back together.
I am currently using reiki and reflexology treatments in Hospice Day Service to help me live as well as I can. These treatments sound very spiritual and perhaps not for everyone, but it’s such a relaxing experience, it brings calm and gives me time to reflect. It’s really helped me. Anything that helps me relax despite everything that I’m experiencing is amazing.
The hospice has helped my family too. My sister comes for reiki, and Gareth plans to access the counselling service in the future. A terminal diagnosis affects everyone in the family, we all need support.
It’s human nature to be scared when you are faced with a terminal illness, but the support we need is here.
The care from Hospice in the Weald never stops. They have helped me plan for the future, which is not easy with a terminal illness. For example, my condition will change over time and sometimes I may not be able to walk further than 20 metres. They have supported me in thinking about the practicalities of this and how we will cope. Hospice in the Weald is helping me every step of the way. The services here are so vast, I know I can ask for the support I need.