Last year, at the age of 38, tests to investigate persistent shoulder pain led to a shocking diagnosis for Marie. “I’d had a pain in my shoulder for a while so I booked an appointment to see my GP,” explains Marie. “I was referred for physiotherapy, but it just wasn’t helping and the pain was really affecting me, so I was sent for an X-ray and further tests. When they revealed I had cancer in my lungs and I was told my condition was terminal it was such a shock.”
Marie, who lives with her partner in Yardley, began receiving support from John Taylor Hospice’s clinical nurse specialists who would regularly visit her at home. Seeing how much Marie’s pain was affecting her quality of life and her wellbeing, the nurses wanted to do everything they could to help her live as pain-free and as independently as possible.
“They arranged for me to spend a week at the hospice in the Inpatient Unit to help get my pain under control,” says Marie, 39. “I didn’t really know what to expect before my stay. I’m a community care worker so I’m used to looking after others, not being cared for myself!
“I can honestly say I was treated like a queen. If I asked for something, I’d always say ‘there’s no rush’ but they’d do it straight away. They never made any request feel like too much trouble and I knew I could ask for anything. One thing I was really surprised by was the quality of the food – it was so well presented and I was impressed!”
During her six-day stay in the Inpatient Unit, Marie also received a visit from the hospice’s complementary therapist Angela Vigus, and together they discussed how Marie could continue to control her pain once she returned home.
“Angela gave me a pain gel which I can rub into my shoulder blades,” says Marie. “It’s absolutely brilliant and it’s like a miracle gel! It smells lovely and soaks right into my skin. My pain starts to settle within about 15 minutes and it helps me to get a good night’s sleep. I’m really grateful for the support from the hospice and how they’ve helped to get my pain under control.”
Experienced therapist Angela was first introduced to this new treatment oil at a recent pain study day at the Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy. “I brought what I’d learned back to John Taylor and could start to see results with the oil,” explains Angela. “Most of the blends are ‘Taylor-made’ by me for patients and carers as there can often be more than one issue that’s affecting that person.
“When I first met Marie we had a long chat and I created a blend of pain oil specifically for her. Complementary therapies can help in many ways and knowing that they’re benefitting Marie so much, in conjunction with her pain medication, is wonderful to hear. By reducing pain, complementary therapies can improve sleep which in turn can lead to increased energy and healthier eating – it’s the whole domino effect that I love. At the hospice, we believe in making every moment matter and being able to manage pain and have a good quality of life is a big part of that.”