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Jackie Henry

Jackie's Story

Hospice Volunteer and Patient

It's always been important to me to feel part of the local community, and when I moved to Corby six years ago I wanted to do some voluntary work. I was curious about Lakelands hospice after driving past on a daily basis wondering what happened inside.

I always believed that the word hospice meant 'the end of life' and assumed that Lakelands  Hospice was a residential organisation, caring and supporting people who were dying.

My curiosity got the better of me, so I arranged a visit to discuss volunteering. Although a little apprehensive venturing into an unfamiliar environment, I was pleasantly surprised and found the experience enlightening.

I imagined an emotional and depressing environment, and was surprised to be greeted with friendly and welcoming staff, volunteers and patients. I couldn't have been more wrong! I was initially recruited as part of the fundraising team which consists of dedicated staff and volunteers who work incredibly hard to raise much needed funds.

Unfortunately shortly after I had started in this role I was diagnosed with cancer.

It's difficult to put into words the devastation you feel hearing you have a serious illness, but Lakelands was an obvious source of support. Lakelands has been my lifeline throughout surgery and the different treatments I have had.

Having the opportunity to share my highs and lows with other patients who had undergone similar experiences was amazingly helpful. I benefitted from having the opportunity to spend time with others who had undergone similar experiences and had come out of the other side. I still consider Lakelands to be my security blanket, and I am more than happy to continue in my dual role as a patient and a volunteer.

Lakelands Hospice provides excellent nursing expertise, counselling, complimentary therapies, practical and emotional support in an environment where you can 'just be yourself'. The nursing staff will always give you the opportunity to ask questions about your health, treatments, medication and all the things you need to have clarified explained in layman's terms without the confusion of medical terminology.

At Lakelands you aren't a medical term/a disease, or a number, you are a person cared for and respected with dignity and compassion. Lakelands is a safe environment where you can share your good days and the bad ones, without suppressing your emotions or feeling judged, or that you have to put a brave face on.

Thursdays are my favourite day of the week and I have changed my working days so that I can still attend. We always have a giggle and I appreciate that this is due to the lovely mix of personalities, characters and the sense of humour of the patients who attend.

It's not always fun, and occasionally there are tears, because things don't always work out how we want them to.

I continue to be amazed by the bravery, dignity and courage of those who cannot be treated, it is really humbling. Whatever happens, there is always someone to listen to you, give you time, advice, and make you feel special, and cared for. A hug and a smile can work wonders.

From my very first visit I felt calm, relaxed and peaceful and 4 years later I still have the same feeling.

I've made some lovely friends of all ages, and met some really interesting and unforgettable characters. For people living alone, having the opportunity to socialise and get out of the house can break up long days and evenings. Sharing a lovely hot meal and a chat can break up the boredom and anxiety of loneliness and can be the highlight of your week. I really can't describe how lucky I feel to have been accepted into the community, and involved in such a worthy cause.

I know how incredibly hard the hospice staff and volunteers work, and it's such a worthy cause. In these really difficult times Lakelands seems to be at the very heart of Corby, and people are incredibly generous with their time and donations.

I'm a great believer in taking each day as it comes. Be as happy as you can be, and if you can help someone on the way, fantastic!

Jackie Henry