10th October 2019
Hospice Care Week: Beverley's story
During Hospice Care Week we are looking at what it takes to provide our services and sharing some of our patients’ stories. Today the focus is on complementary therapies and we bring you Beverley’s story.
Beverley’s world collapsed in April when she was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Beverley, who was a teacher for over 34 years, first noticed symptoms such as slurring of the speech and excessive fluid in her mouth, together with weakness in her left arm and leg.
“The prognosis for the form of MND I presented with was for life expectancy of six months to two years,” she said. “I’m on month six and I’m determined to live and make the most of the time I have.”
Beverley, 58, was born and grew up in Nottingham. She studied for her teaching certificate in Newcastle Upon Tyne and lived and worked in the south for a number of years before moving back to Nottingham. She worked as a primary and secondary school teacher in the county, teaching Textiles and Food Technology. She was a popular teacher and former pupils – now adults – still come up to her in the street and greet her warmly.
Her only son, Sam, 26, who lives in the south, is finding it hard to come to terms with her illness.
“I am creating a memory box for him; I’ve been going through things for him to remember me by including his favourite toys and his christening shawl that I knitted for him. I will write him a letter to read when I am gone,” said Beverley.
“MND is a cruel illness. It robs you of your future. I had hoped one day to have grandchildren. I had thought I might move down south to be near my son and his girlfriend. All those dreams will never happen now.”
One dream Beverley does hope to realise while she has time, is to see her children’s story published. When she left teaching in 2017 she decided to write a book. She had always used her vivid imagination to create stories for her son when he was little and for the children at the primary schools where she taught. In 2017 she put pen to paper and wrote a mystery story aimed at 9-12-year-olds.
Set in a fictional village in Nottinghamshire, the book tells the tale of 12-year-old Lewis and his friend Lupin who stumble across a historic mystery in the tumble-down rectory where Lewis lives. The discovery leads them to unravel a story lost in time.
Beverley is looking for an agent to help her find a publisher. Her illness has given her a fresh determination to do all she can to see her book in print.
Benefits of massage
Beverley has been coming to Day Therapy twice a month since August where she has massage therapy to ease her symptoms. She also enjoys meeting people and getting out.
Matt McGuire, Complementary Therapy Coordinator at the hospice, said that while massage cannot reverse the progress of MND it may ease some of the symptoms.
“Many people with this condition find massage can ease muscle spasms and help to maintain the range of motion at joints which in turn helps preserve muscle strength,” Matt explained. “Massage also helps to manage the pain and stiffness that can affect anyone whose lifestyle has become more sedentary. Because it also aids relaxation it can provide a brief respite from the stress and anxiety of living with this disease.”
Beverley said: “The massage is fantastic. It really helps. Matt is a brilliant character and we have such a good rapport.”
Last year we provided 980 hours of complementary therapy. It costs the hospice £35 an hour to provide this service. If you would like to help us support more people like Beverley, there are lots of ways to get involved. Find out more here.