Jenny lives at home in a very rural part of Greater Torrington; in November 2013, Jenny was diagnosed with colon cancer, 20 days after she received her diagnosis, Jenny had surgery to remove the tumour. “I was fortunate in that it was a low grade cancer that I had and it hadn’t spread” says Jenny. “I was in hospital for four nights and then I came home”. Next door to Jenny lives Lyn who is a Parish Nurse, with her nursing background Lyn provided Jenny with support at home to help with her recovery.
As well as the support Lyn provided to Jenny when she came home, in her role as Parish Nurse Lyn attended appointments with Jenny prior to her diagnosis and in the build up to surgery. From her nursing background, Lyn was able to answer any questions that Jenny had that she hadn’t thought to ask in the appointment.
Jenny was discharged on a Saturday and returned the following Wednesday to be told the surgery had been a success and all was clear. “One of the nurses who had looked after me when I was in hospital was there when I was at the follow up; she was so excited when I told her the good news. She ran back in the ward and told another young nurse who had looked after me and came back and told me how excited she was! It made us wonder if the nurses ever get the results of people that they have looked after…”
The availability and proximity of Lyn was included in Jenny’s discharge plan “I didn’t even think about what would happen when I came home to be honest; I hadn’t really got that far! But there was never any question about it because Lyn was there to look after me”
“When I first came home I was very sore and I was surprised at how weak I was” explained Jenny. “Lyn would come round first thing in the morning to make sure I was up and that I’d had breakfast. She would then check my dressings, and I’d get dressed. Then I’d have a lie down on the sofa, usually fall asleep, and then lunch would be here!” Being a neighbour, Lyn was able to cook food for Jenny and bring food round to her; this ensured that Jenny was getting the nutrition she needed. Lyn describes that she would also ensure the house was warm enough and there was wood for the wood burner. “As a Parish Nurse we can do things like that, things that are just not possible for District Nurses because they don’t have time, and it’s not what they are there to do”
It was Lyn who first noticed that Jenny was developing an infection in her scar. “It was a Friday” Jenny explains “Lyn said that she thought I should really get it looked at before the weekend, and sure enough when we got to the doctors there was an infection there. I had to go to the surgery to have my dressing changed every day at first, but then because Lyn was around, she was able to change them to save us the journey. I had two weeks of antibiotics as well, but it got better in the end!”
Jenny didn’t receive care from the district nurses, because Lyn was available. Although Parish Nurses do not provide intensive medical care like injections or leg ulcer dressings, they do provide reassurance. From Jenny’s point of view, “Having Lyn around was 100% the reassurance I needed to feel safe. It was so good to know that there was someone there who was trained! It was completely brilliant and it really worked.”
“If Lyn hadn’t been around I would probably have leant quite hard on my family – my sons and their wives. Or, would have needed someone at least 2 or 3 times per day to come and help me – I was very lucky in that Lyn is my neighbour so she just popped in and out. If it hadn’t been for the Parish Nurses I might have gone to the Cottage Hospital, but I much preferred being home – there is nothing like your own bed”
Jenny is now 15 weeks clear of the cancer she suffered from. “Someone getting better isn’t just about the medical side of things” she says “it’s also about how you feel. Having Lyn as a neighbour and Parish Nurse was absolutely brilliant and it helped my recovery no end. I really couldn’t fault it”