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The newsletter of The Hospice of St Francis
“The Hospice gave me back my life”
Mum-of-two, Charlie Frankum, was 41 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013. Eleven months later, following successful chemotherapy and surgery, she was given the all clear but in February 2015, the cancer returned in her neck.
Radical surgery, radiotherapy and drug hormone treatment followed, but the
cancer continued to spread through her bones and in June 2015, she was given just two months to live.
Eleven months on and against all the odds, Charlie, from Tring, explains how The Hospice of St Francis has “given her back her life....”
“I really hadn’t wanted to leave my home. I’d been sleeping downstairs in a specially- adapted bed, my husband, Rob, had given up work to look after me and I was really anxious about handing over my care.
It was my GP and Rennie Grove who referred me to The Hospice of St Francis. Following risky but successful surgery to remove two cancerous vertebrae, I’d had titanium rods inserted in the top of my spine, which saved me from paralysis. But as time passed, the pain in my legs became intolerable, I couldn’t walk and Rob was just exhausted.
Don’t miss our annual Garden Party in the stunning grounds of Ashridge House Sunday 22nd May 1-5pm!
(see back page for more details )
I came to the Hospice for pain management, symptom control and respite care and initially I wasn’t with it at all. I was
tearful, anxious and on a cocktail of nine painkillers, which weren’t working and were making my breathing erratic.
“The minute we crossed the threshold, it was like being cuddled”
The nurses couldn’t have been kinder though, telling me not to worry and explaining that the Hospice wasn’t just a place where people come to die but somewhere you leave and come back to again when you need it.
Just those few words really helped calm and reassure me, enabling me to process and understand what was going on in my body and to stop worrying about Rob, our two sons, Joe, 12, and Al e, nine,
and home.
IhadmyownroomwithaTVonthewall, a bathroom with a jacuzzi bath and there
was a beautiful garden right outside my patio doors.
The nurses were so attentive and various doctors came to see me, listening and talking Rob and me through my options. Nothing was too much trouble.
The whole medical team worked so hard to come up with a solution to stop my pain, trying di erent combinations and doses of drugs.
Rob and I both knew I
was in the right place and
the relief was immense.
The minute we crossed the threshold, it was like being cuddled and that feeling of being hugged has never gone away.
Once my pain was under control, I started having massages to help me relax. I took part in a Colour and Style Workshop – aimed at helping people with serious illness to regain con dence in their
Continued overleaf
Charlie Frankum (front, centre) with some of the multi-disciplinary team involved in her care – including consultants, a doctor, nurses and physiotherapists
Charlie in the Inpatient Unit last July
For a virtual tour inside the Hospice, visit p1

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