Sonia’s story

June 2020


When Sonia Cox was first introduced to the hospice, little did she know the impact it would have on her. Now, she’s met royalty, road tested state of the art equipment and celebrated her daughter’s 16th birthday in style.

Not long after Sonia was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 she was referred to Prospect Hospice’s inpatient unit for a week of respite care. “It was brilliant,” she remembers. “The staff really seemed to care and I had a room to myself where I felt I could relax.”

Christmas was drawing near and the team made it possible for her to get home for Christmas Eve so she could join in the celebrations. “Christmas is a big thing in my family and I felt much more chilled than I had before my stay. We had a brilliant Christmas all together as a family.”

Since that first experience, Sonia has returned to the inpatient unit four more times and, on her most recent visit, was introduced to some impressive technology to help manage her pain.

Hospice consultant Sheila Popert introduced Sonia to an app she’d help to create to help patients like her manage their pain. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the Forest of Serenity app takes patients on a guided walk around nature where he points out things to look at around you which aids small head and neck movements, allowing patient with limited mobility, the chance to explore their virtual surroundings. “I borrowed the headset for a weekend and found it really good. When it’s on I feel completed zoned out and forget everything else around me.”

The app and headset also helps to ease pain and Sonia completed charts to indicate her pain levels when she was using them and when she wasn’t. “I definitely felt less pain while I was using it. Sir David Attenborough has such a soothing voice that I just chill out.”

So impressed with the headset and how it made a difference to how she feels, Sonia has since purchased one herself so she can use it whenever she needs to. She’s also let some of her friends and family have a go and explains that it’s rather amusing to see. “When they try it on, you can see them getting really engaged with it. At one point he shows you a stone and everyone always tries to pick it up. It’s really funny to watch. It just goes to show how real it feels and how engrossed you get in it.”

As part of her most recent stay, Sonia was staying on our inpatient unit when charity president HRH The Duchess of Cornwall came to visit and got to meet her to tell her all about her experience with the headsets. “It was a real privilege to meet her,” said Sonia. “I found her very outgoing and easy to chat to. She even tried the headset on and had a go herself for around a minute. She asked me questions about how to use it and I told her about how it eased my pain. She thought that was great and seemed really pleased with it.”

But it isn’t always about the big things, like meeting royalty or trying out new technology, that make a different to our patients. Often it’s about the small things that mean they can continue enjoying life until the very end.

For Sonia, this was getting to her daughter’s 16th birthday party. “She’s not like most teenagers,” said Sonia. “She’s very head strong. She knows what she wants to do and puts the plans in place to get there. She’s already planned what she’s going to do in terms of her next steps in education so she can have her dream career and I’m so proud of her.

“For her 16th birthday, she wasn’t interested in going to her prom or having a big party but instead she wanted something really simple. She just wanted to be at home, sitting around a fire pit, toasting marshmallows with her friends.”

As her daughter’s birthday was approaching, Sonia wasn’t sure she’d get to go along. “I’d been between the hospice and hospital for around four months and wasn’t sure that I’d be able to go along but the staff here got together. They made sure I had my medication and arranged for my friend to collect me. I was there for the whole length of the party and that meant the world to me.”

Speaking of her experience with Prospect Hospice, Sonia says; “It’s thanks to the hospice that I’m still here to enjoy these special moment and, without them, I think I’d be in a much worse place than I am now. In fact, I don’t think I’d be here at all.

“I don’t want to say anything bad about the hospital because they all do such a great job, but at the hospice they’re specialists in end of life care and they know what I need. I’m in less pain here and it’s lovely that my family and friends are always welcome here too.”

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