A man who discovered he had cancer after being involved in a car accident said he had been “overwhelmed” by his experience at St John’s Hospice.
Alan Bennett, 54, was in a minor collision a few weeks ago, and received medical treatment. Doctors initially couldn’t find the cause of the pain he was having in his back, and he was referred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary for further tests.
It was only then that he was told he had cancer of the intestine, which had spread to his liver and spine.
“It was unbelievable”, he said, from his bed on the ward at St John’s Hospice.
“I went in with whiplash and came out with cancer.
“If I hadn’t have had the accident I wouldn’t have known.”
Unsure of what to do, Alan, a self-employed draftsman from Kendal, was advised by the RLI to go and see staff at the hospice. At first he was dubious, suspicious of the religious connotations associated with the words ‘St John’s’.
“Initially I thought ‘you just go there to die’, but it’s worked out as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m an atheist, and I kind of thought that given the name St John’s it would be some kind of religious led hospice, but it’s not.
“The people are so caring and it made me feel so much better about things. I’ve had lots of advice, and information on what kind of help is available. The amount of information they have is incredible.”
Alan, who is married with a stepson, grandson, and granddaughter on the way, said that spending a few days at the hospice had allowed him to come to terms with his situation.
It also meant that the drugs prescribed to him by the hospital could be monitored for their effects, and adjusted accordingly if needed.
“The hospice offers the ideal environment for this,” Alan explains pragmatically. “If you’ve got more pain one day than usual, then they can change things for the better.
“While I’m here I can ask questions, but at home I wouldn’t know who to contact. Coming in totally new to the hospice environment, I’ve been totally overwhelmed, and I cannot find one fault.
“Someone can’t instill that in you, I got that feeling as soon as I got here. It just felt right.”
Alan has now returned home, where he will begin to forge a new life, knowing that many things will have to change.
“I’ll have to pack the job in, and start this new life”, he said.
“But once things settle down a bit I think I’ll get involved in the hospice somehow. Until you’re caught up in it you don’t know. I just want to reinforce what a positive place this is.”