Because of you...

Colleen didn't have to worry

Eighty five-year-old Colleen Maskell has loved being on the go all her life. Raised and educated in India in the last years of the British Raj, she married at 18 and within a few years was mum to three young children. She and the family moved to the UK, headed for Liverpool, and before the first week was out she had landed a job on the assembly line in a factory.

“I used to be out of the door before 6am each morning for a journey to work that involved three buses,” says Colleen, “and I wouldn’t get back until 6.30 at night. Then it was time to cook, look after the children and clean the house. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed it, but I did. I’ve always kept very busy.”

Her husband had always worked on the railways in India, so it’s not surprising that they eventually made their way to Swindon for work. As the years passed, Colleen worked in retail, accounts and became an usher at Swindon Court. Even when she retired, she couldn’t resist working for Meals on Wheels.

So when she began to feel unaccountably exhausted and found some lumps behind her ear, she went to her GP. The diagnosis of lymphoma was shocking, but Colleen says the great faith she has in God helped carry her through the initial tests and some treatment. She declined some of the more invasive treatments that were proposed, and decided she wanted to live the rest of her life as normally as possible – reading books and the daily newspapers, doing online research, and keeping in close touch with her family by Zoom and on her iPhone.

Colleen’s spirits began to dip when she realised that, despite wanting to do these things, she had simply become too tired and weak to even start.

“Fortunately, I had been put in touch with Prospect Hospice by the hospital, and the nurses there kept a close eye on me,” says Colleen.

“One, Sarah, suggested I go into the hospice’s inpatient unit, so that they could help me rest and get my energy levels back up. And it was absolutely fantastic there.

“I had a beautiful room to myself, and it felt like a posh hotel. I didn’t have to worry about anything – I didn’t even have to put the kettle on – and the staff were all so kind to me. They could take the time to talk to me – one of the best things was when Charlotte, my physiotherapist, would push me round the lovely grounds and we’d look at the plants together.

“I really hadn’t known what to expect before I went in, but every single person there was kind, attentive, and so caring. They really do love their patients. There’s no other word. When I came to go home a few weeks later, even the chef came to say goodbye to me – and gave me two packs of the sausages I’d said I loved, to take back home with me!”

Colleen says the “recharge” she got during her stay at Prospect Hospice enabled her to carry on living life “her way” for far longer than would have otherwise been possible. What surprised her, though, was that she was not charged a penny for the care she received.

“The quality of care is so high, and there’s such expertise, it’s incredible that there is no charge to patients or their families. It’s the people who give to Prospect Hospice, do fund-raisers, buy lottery tickets and help in other ways that keep the charity going. We are so lucky to have the hospice. You never know when it could be you that needs it – and as someone who has needed it, I can’t thank those who support it enough.”

Find out more about how you can support the work of the hospice with a regular gift here.