Cancer patient thanks Barnsley Hospice for more time with family

17 May 2012

A Barnsley mum who fell ill with incurable cancer after emigrating to Australia says her decision to come home has given her more precious time with her family, thanks to her local hospice.

Joanne Goldthorpe, 43, was told by doctors in New South Wales that she had only months to live after suffering a recurrence of an aggressive form of cervical cancer.

Her family made the difficult decision to give up their new home at the other side of the world so Joanne could be closer to her own parents and other family members.

And she believes “fantastic” care and support from Barnsley Hospice and other local oncology and palliative care services is the reason why she has survived two years on from the devastating prognosis.

Joanne, of Park View, Royston, is determined to live as independently as possible and make the most of every day with husband David, 48, and children Emily, 16, and Oliver, 14. 

She said:  “I’ve accepted dying but I’ve wanted to do everything I can to fight the illness because I want my children to know that I haven’t given up. I was in a terrible state when I came back from Australia but everything that could be done for me has been done to make sure my life is the best it can be. I don’t think I would be here now if I’d stayed in Australia.

“I’m just so grateful, particularly to the hospice. Unfortunately you only realise how important and valuable places like this are when you or someone you love needs them.”

Joanne has had three stays in the hospice’s inpatient unit for pain and symptom management and also attends its Limes day centre each week.  Hospice staff helped Joanne and David to prepare for when they talked frankly to their children about Joanne’s illness and all four have had counselling through the hospice. 

Former nurse Joanne and her family left Barnsley in 2005 and settled in Wollongong, near Sydney. They loved the relaxed Australian lifestyle and the children were happy in school.

However their dream started to unravel when lorry driver David suffered serious injuries in a road accident. While David was recovering, Joanne went to her family doctor with symptoms including bloating and back pain. After a biopsy, Joanne was told she had cervical cancer, news which described as “a complete body blow” as she had kept up with regular smear tests.

Initial treatment, including radiotherapy, seemed successful but, 18 months on, she again felt unwell.  A scan revealed the cancer had returned and spread to her liver and was incurable. 

She said:  “It was meant to be a new life in Australia but things had gone badly wrong.  It went very quickly from me having an 80 per cent chance of a cure to my cancer being terminal and I decided to come home. 

“I had struggled to access palliative care in Australia and, when I arrived in Barnsley last year, I was in constant pain, hardly able to walk and suffering from incontinence caused by the radiotherapy.  

“My treatment here couldn’t have been more different.  I’ve now had surgery, which has sorted the incontinence, and my pain is managed although I do have to use a wheelchair when I go out. All being well, we’re hoping to go on holiday later this year as I want to make some nice memories for the kids.”

Joanne has recently undergone further radiotherapy as the cancer has spread to three other parts of the body, including one of her lungs.

Barnsley Hospice, at Gawber, Barnsley Hospital and community teams work closely together to offer a range of treatment and support to adults with life-threatening conditions, and also support their loved ones.     

Barnsley’s two specialist palliative medicine consultants - Becky Hirst and Jason Boland – are based at the hospice and the number of patients they have seen has steadily increased over the past two years.   

Dr Boland said:  “Essentially patients are at the centre of care and everything that we do is about providing the best possible quality for life for each individual. 

“As well as looking at specialist drugs for patients, we ensure access to other services such as counselling, social care, physiotherapy or spiritual support.”

Barnsley Hospice receives £1.6m from the NHS each year, but has to raise an additional £1.9m to stay open and relies on donations, sales at its nine charity shops and the support of volunteers.

Joanne’s daughter Emily, a pupil at St Michael’s High School in Carlton, is raising cash for the hospice by organising a bake sale at school and taking part in the hospice’s ‘Midnight Walk’.

She said:  “I thought the hospice might have been a scary place but it’s not what you expect. It has helped me a lot and I want to raise money to give something back.  Last year I did five miles but this year I’m doing ten.”

The walk, which has a Hawaiian theme, starts at midnight on June 23 and there are two routes of five and ten miles.

For more information about the walk and to register go to www.barnsleyhospicemidnightwalk.org

For further information about the hospice, visit www.barnsleyhospice.org or  email enquiries@barnsley-hospice.org or call 01226 244244.

NOTE TO EDITORS

Attached picture shows Joanne Goldthorpe. She can be contacted for further information on 01226 724198.

Media contact at the hospice for more information on this Laura Conrad on 01226 244 244 (ext 263) or email laura.conrad@barnsley-hospice.org

Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at deborah@katebettsmedia.co.uk or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at kate@katebettsmedia.co.uk

 

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