“I want to help spread the word that coming to Grove House and finding out what is available to people like me who have gone through the medical and surgical aspects of illness is really important. It’s a place that helps you start living again and not a place you come to die.”
Lynne Morrice was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma (skin cancer) in May 2018. “I had a small lump on the side of my neck which didn’t go down so I went to my GP, received a referral to St Albans City Hospital and was diagnosed with cancer and at that stage it wasn’t certain what type of cancer I had. Following an appointment with the Ear, Nose and Throat team at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and after a range of tests and a biopsy I was told that I had metastatic melanoma.
“I was referred to Mount Vernon hospital then onto the Lister Hospital in Stevenage for a modified radial neck dissection surgery in August 2018.
“It was after surgery that I experienced real difficulties with all the kinds of things we take for granted – brushing my hair, cleaning my teeth, eating and sleeping -those type of activities. But from the hospital’s point of view their part in your treatment is over and you are discharged.
“Back with Mount Vernon I found that with metastatic melanoma there are a limited number of options but I was fortunate enough to be able to join an immunotherapy drug trial using a new immunotherapy drug. Once again I had, and still have, a very skilled team of cancer specialists dealing with my condition but my day to day living was massively impacted by the surgery. I had difficulty eating, speaking and sleeping and I felt very down. I didn’t know what to do or where to go for help but I really needed something.
“Before I had surgery I was referred to a “hospice” in St Albans that could provide me with support post-surgery. The “hospice” turned out to be Grove House – home of charity Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s day services and I came in and had an appointment with Katie – one of the hospice at home nurses.
“I explained all my post-surgery symptoms that included pain and difficulties with every day activities. Katie reassured me that there were services available at Grove House that would help me and recommended reflexology to start me off. It really helped.
“During the reflexology I mentioned to the therapist that I was having problems with my neck and finding it very difficult to move. She said right away that there was a physiotherapist who she felt sure could help. That physio was Poppy who provided me with great physio support as well as recommending exercises and movements that I was able to do at home to gradually improve my movement and mobility. And when I was telling her during one of our sessions that my scar felt incredibly tight and uncomfortable she told me all about scar therapy.
“The scar therapy has been marvellous!
“It’s a treatment that helps improve comfort and the range of movement caused by tight, lumpy or uncomfortable scars that you get as a result of some types of surgery, which has most certainly worked for me.
“I also had a series of counselling sessions and attended a Tai Chi class which helped my movement, balance and general wellbeing.
“I am passionate about helping Rennie Grove to shout loudly about all the services on offer at Grove House. Many people with many cancers have clear and documented patient pathways that support them through their cancer journey. But some cancers such as mine, are not typical and I struggled to find practical and emotional support. The team at Grove House has provided me with both and I’m so grateful for their care, professionalism and the range of services that have helped me live my life as fully as I possibly can.
“The team and the services I’ve received from some highly trained people at Grove House have been absolutely marvellous in helping me with day to day living. It’s been important for my mental wellbeing that I worked all the way through my illness. The practical help in assisting me to move and talk in a better way and helping me to find people who I didn’t know existed have made such a difference.
“Before I started visiting Grove House for myself I thought it was a traditional hospice building with inpatient beds designed for people who were at the end of their lives. I’m sure many others think that too.
“But when you find out everything that is on offer here – for patients as well as their families and some other activities that anyone can join – you realise that it’s not what you thought it was.
“I think it’s important that people move away from thinking that Rennie Grove and the team of staff and volunteers at Grove House are only there to provide care to people at the end of their lives. While this is an important part of what they do, they do so much more.
“I want to help spread the word that coming to Grove House and finding out what is available to people like me who have gone through the medical and surgical aspects of illness is really important. It’s a place that helps you start living again and not a place you come to die.
“For me it’s all about living with not dying from cancer. Grove House is certainly helping me to do that.”
Find out more about Transforming Grove House