Reignit­ing the spark in our lives

SHARON FAIR­CLOUGH, a coun­sel­lor at South Bucks Hospice, tells how she, along with help of staff nurse Ca­role Hil­dreth, helped a sui­ci­dal breast can­cer pa­tient re­gain the spark of life and the will to carry on

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

IT WAS heart­break­ing to sit and lis­ten to the de­spair of a woman blighted by trau­mas who had ac­tive plans to end her life.

My job was to work del­i­cately with Sarah, a frag­ile and vul­ner­a­ble pa­tient to see if we to­gether could find rea­sons for her to live and not end her life.

Hav­ing found that rea­son, it was my job to help her reignite the spark of life we had found.

I met with Sarah (her name has been changed to pre­serve anonymity) in April af­ter be­ing asked to do so by South Bucks Hospice’s head staff nurse Ca­role Hil­dreth, who was ex­tremely con­cerned about her psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing.

Sarah, a mid­dle-aged woman, had been di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer in Novem­ber 2014.

One month af­ter a mas­tec­tomy, she be­gan the harsh and in­va­sive treat­ment of chemo­ther­apy.

On the day I met with Sarah, she ex­plained that she was half­way through her chemo­ther­apy and that ra­dio­ther­apy would soon fol­low.

Sarah’s life had been blighted by trau­mas through­out.

Sarah dis­closed that due to such a lot of emo­tional pain as well as pre­vi­ous health is­sues, fol­lowed by the di­ag­no­sis of breast can­cer, she could not see a way for­ward in her life.

She was ac­tively sui­ci­dal with plans for how to end her life.

Dur­ing the course of the ses­sion, I stayed with her de­spair and ac­cepted how she felt.

To­gether we looked at what it might be like not to live any­more and all Sarah could see was that her suf­fer­ing would be over.

We then looked at what it might be like for her fam­ily, her friends and for the hospice staff who were look­ing af­ter her and of whom she had grown fond of.

Blankly, Sarah looked at me and said there was no one and noth­ing worth enough for her to feel like she wanted to live.

As we sat in the deaf­en­ing si­lence of her ad­mis­sion and with her mind set to end her life, I gen­tly en­quired with Sarah on the last time she re­called feel­ing any sense of en­joy­ment – even just the tini­est frag­ment of en­joy­ment.

Sarah looked down for a while and a minute smile ap­peared on her face, so small it could have been missed.

Sarah looked up at me and be­gan to de­scribe how be­fore her di­ag­no­sis she had en­joyed fash­ion, choos­ing pretty out­fits and ap­ply­ing make-up to feel and look good.

Sarah had cared about her ap­pear­ance.

Sarah slowly be­gan to re­visit her mem­o­ries of feel­ing this way and grad­u­ally her al­most ex­tin­guished flame of life be­gan to burn brighter.

She told me what type of fash­ion she liked and how she liked her make-up to look and how it felt for her.

She then de­scribed how she could never feel this way again as she hated her mas­tec­tomy.

Sarah told me about her poor fit­ting mas­tec­tomy bra and the stuffing that had been given to her with­out shape.

From the mo­ment she had lost her breast she had also lost all sense of her­self in her world and her ex­pe­ri­ence was one trauma too many for her to


With Sarah’s con­sent to share the top­ics of our ses­sion, as well as fol­low­ing hospice pol­icy for good prac­tice where se­ri­ous risk to life presents, I met with Nurse Ca­role and in­formed her that I had recog­nised a small spark of in­ter­est in life in Sarah dur­ing our ses­sion.

Ca­role ex­plained that Sarah had been wait­ing for weeks and weeks for an ac­cu­rate fit­ting for a suit­able mas­tec­tomy bra and breast form from the hos­pi­tal­hos­pita and de­spite Ca­role chas­ing this nu­mer­ous­nu­mero times, her ef­forts hadh come to noth­ing each time.

We agreedag that Ca­role would ap­proacha hospice CEO Jo Woolf and with Jo’s con­sent­con to use pa­tient day care fund­ing,fundin Ca­role would in­vite SarahS to meet with herhe for a one-toone to look at pretty mas­tec­to­my­mas­tec bras via the spe­cial­ist­spe­ciali in­ter­net shop­ping­shop­pin sites, as well as car­ry­ing­car­ryin out a fit­ting for a gen­ui­ne­genui pros­the­sis.

Fol­low­ing­Follo this meet­ing­meetin with Sarah, Ca­role in­formed me soon af­tera that she too had no­ticedn a new sparkspa of life emergin­gem in Sarah.

The or­der was ma­dem and the item­sit ar­rived by postp a few days

On the day of theth fit­ting, Ca­role pre­sented to me theh box con­tain­ing a beau­ti­fully made breastb form, and a

EMO­TIONAL PAIN PAIN: (Ab (Above)) Th The gar­dend whichhi h pa­tientsti t en­joyj at tS South th BucksB kH Hospice;i (right)( i ht) a nurse con­soles a pa­tient at the hospice; (be­low) Sharon Fair­clough, a coun­sel­lor at South Bucks Hospice

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