Kay’s story

July 2020


When you think of a hospice patient, Kay Irvine isn’t the person that springs to mind.

As she bounces into day therapy, you could be forgiven for thinking she’s a volunteer who’s giving up her time to help people. Behind this flamboyant personality lies a battle that many would have given up on. But the person that sits before us today is testament to what a positive attitude and the right support at the right time can bring.

Four years ago, Kay was diagnosed with blood cancer and spent the next ten months balancing working full time and receiving treatment in hospital. This was followed the next year by a stem cell transplant. None of these defeated the cancer and so last year Kay underwent two intense treatments of chemotherapy.

After numerous bouts of Sepsis, Kay felt weak and had no energy so she changed her way of thinking and her lifestyle. She gave up things like processed foods and sugar and had one good summer before she was told her cancer had escalated to 98% and her body was running out of blood.

On New Year’s Eve last year, Kay was admitted to hospital for two further rounds of chemo therapy and remembers before the treatment began, the consultant said he would get the palliative consultant to come and see her. “In that one short sentence, he took away all the hope I had for the future,” she says. “New Year’s Eve is meant to be about looking to the future but I felt that was being taken away from me.”

“I was uneducated about what a hospice delivers and had seen a friend die after being cared for by a hospice. To me, it wasn’t a positive prospect.”

Unlike many who, understandably, feel scared and disorientated when given the news they have cancer, Kay says she saw the cancer as a gift from the universe. “It was a wakeup call to give me the kick I needed.”

Following her treatment, Kay moved into sheltered accommodation where she met a lady who she thought could benefit from hospice support. “I came into contact with Prospect Hospice when I called them to ask about support they could offer a friend of mine,” remembers Kay. “They spoke to me about day therapy for myself and I thought ‘why not’”.

As a patient, Kay benefits from meeting others and sharing experiences with those going through similar situations, however, she admits that she feels much more like a volunteer and explains that she gains stability and grounding from helping others. She is a likable and much loved member of the Thursday day therapy group and people instantly warm to her and open up.

Zoe O’Reilly, day therapy lead at Prospect Hospice, says: “Kay has been great character to have around day therapy for her four month period of attendance and really enjoys meeting new people to welcome them to the group and explain what’s going on here. It’s clear that Kay thrives in this environment and it’s helping her cope with her own isolation away from the hospice.”

“Prospect Hospice has been very supportive and they make me feel more comfortable,” explains Kay. “I relate to people here and feel valued as a person. They don’t talk about the cancer. They don’t try and fix me. It’s fun.”

Kay’s cancer is now manageable and low and she’s planning to set up her own business to help motivate others. True to her rebellious nature she explains: “I told the doctor that I wasn’t going to die to fit in with his statistics.”

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