Eighty-two-year-old grandfather Alan Thomas had given up hope that there was anything else he could try to help improve his mobility and reduce his pain following his diagnosis of colon cancer in 2011 which had spread to his lungs.
He had difficulty bending over and struggled with even the most basic day to day tasks like putting on his socks. But since he has had shiatsu massage with Hospice therapist David Chatterley he feels like he has been given a new lease of life.
Alan, who lives in Amersham with his wife Lesley, describes what difference the Hospice has made to his outlook on life…
“I didn’t realise until I actually stopped to think about it but the shiatsu massage has made a huge difference to my life.
“I’d got to the stage where I’d had so much done to me and I was feeling so low, that I had given up thinking that there was anything I, or anyone else could do to improve things.
“I would get up in the morning, sit in my chair, make some lunch, read the paper and maybe potter in the garden and that was my day. Now I wake up and think ‘what are we going to do today’.
“Going into the garden is much easier now and my balance is so much better. Before, I had to grab onto something when I got up in case I toppled over.
“Four years ago, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I had two operations which left me feeling very weak. At a follow up appointment the doctors discovered the cancer had spread to my lungs. I had chemotherapy but I wish I hadn’t started that. It left me feeling so ill I would rather have gone on as I was without it.
“I had given up thinking that anything would work after the chemo and I had several nasty falls.
“I was referred to The Hospice of St Francis by Rennie Grove Hospice Care. I saw Dr Neil Pender and straight away I felt like I was getting the help that I wanted and that I needed. He really listened to what I was saying, which hadn’t always happened in the past.
“In late 2014 I was in The Hospice of St Francis Inpatient Unit for a couple of weeks to sort out my medication. They asked me if I would like to try reflexology. I have always been interested in alternative therapies and I’ve done a few over the years. I am very much pro these things. The reflexology was absolutely wonderful.
“I had a couple of sessions and it got me thinking about what else could be done. Late last year they suggested I try shiatsu massage.
“The first time I had shiatsu massage with David it felt like I had electricity running through my legs! Whereas previously they had felt very wooden and stiff, I felt I had energy in them like a buzzing feeling all over them. Now I am much straighter than I was before. I find it much easier to bend over and do things like putting my socks on. The only thing that holds me back now is the pain in my back.
“The Hospice has been marvellous. I couldn’t really walk before but they got me going again. Now I’m more upright and I can walk for an hour or more with my walker whereas before I sort of shuffled about. I even look wistfully at my golf clubs now and again but I think those days are behind me.
“I get on very well with David. He is a good friend and we always have a good chat when I’m at the Hospice. Coming to the Hospice for shiatsu massage has given me a new lease of life. I go for a walk and do my exercises every day now.
“Whenever I come to the Hospice it’s like coming to see old friends.”