Hospice helps Elaine hit the right chords
Elaine Buckley thought her guitar playing days were behind her when metastatic breast cancer spread to her bones, spine and skull. The cancer caused inflammation and compression of the nerves, severely affecting use of her left hand and arm.
Elaine, a keen guitarist for many years who wrote her own songs and performed them in schools, felt a keen sense of loss at no longer being able to play.
Since coming to the hospice she has been having physio and massage therapy, which helped her to regain use of her arm. She’s also been learning to play the ukulele, with help and encouragement from music teacher David Squire who volunteered to teach her.
Now, after several sessions, Elaine has not only mastered a standard ukulele but has progressed to a baritone version, which is essentially a small four-stringed guitar.
Elaine said: “We had the most excellent session this week. We played for about an hour which was really enjoyable for me. My fingers were sore but no repercussions on my arm which also shows improvement.
“I am thrilled that I am now playing ukulele and baritone ukulele. Playing the baritone is just like playing my guitar.”
Prior to her diagnosis Elaine had sang and played guitar in inner city schools for 25 years and never went anywhere without her guitar.
“It was a massive loss not to be able to play,” she added. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use this arm again. The physio helped amazingly. The exercises strengthened my arm so I could use my fingers. The massage has worked wonders too.”
David, who teaches guitar, ukulele and music theory said: “Elaine has done very well. I’ve enjoyed it too and it’s nice to be able to help out and to give something back.”
Mel Reizig, Physiotherapist at Nottinghamshire Hospice said: “Goals are hugely important for our patients. They help foster hope and can be a reason to keep going. At the hospice we work as a team to help patients work on their goals, big or small.
“Knowing what Elaine’s goal was, I was able to put together an exercise programme to improve strength and range of movement. She’s worked very hard on the exercises and it’s lovely to see that work come to fruition and to hear her play.”
Elaine has been coming to Day Therapy once a week since October after initially rejecting the suggestion. “Although I qualify for end of life care I didn’t like the idea of coming to a hospice. I didn’t think it was a place for me, but as soon as I walked through the door I felt comfortable. There is a warm atmosphere and I look forward to coming.”
In our Day Therapy unit we work with patients and their families to find out what is important to them. We help them manage pain and symptoms as well as exploring ways to improve mobility. Find out more here