How we help Patient stories Jackie and Mike's story Me and Mike met on the internet ten years ago and after hitting it off straight away we married. Two years later we moved from Peterborough to West Raynham. We spent much of our time walking along the North Norfolk coast, enjoying Morston Key and Blakeney even though Mike was scared of the sea. Mike was a keen photographer and loved taking photos of the boats in the harbour. When we weren’t out walking we spent time at home enjoying our many hobbies. I love sewing and reading and Mike was excellent at woodwork. He made wooden boxes, each one unique, which he sold. In 2013 Mike had suspected lung cancer and had to have an operation. After this, we decided that we wanted to help the local community and set about opening a Community Shop at the Kiptons, in West Raynham. It took us six months to get it up and running and we finally opened it in 2014, with Mike volunteering in the kitchens and me managing the shop area. Later in 2014, I developed a deep depression which got worse and worse then, just before Christmas, was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy, a hereditary condition which means that my heart gets too big. I was referred to Papworth Hospital and spent many months trying to get sorted. Throughout this time we tried to stay positive and continue with life as normal. Whilst I was struggling with my health Mike started feeling like he had bubbles in his chest. He went to the doctors and was referred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. In June 2016 I had an operation and the following week we had to go back to Norwich to see a consultant about Mike. We were told then that Mike had cancer of the esophagus. More tests were needed and we tried to once again stay positive. In July we returned to see the consultant who said that he was sorry but they couldn’t help Mike, the cancer had already spread. He was given an expected six months to live which was completely devastating to both of us. Our friend suggested visiting the Hospice to see if they could help us so we drove down to Hillington and straight away fell in love with the building. Mike absolutely loved the beautiful gardens. We were assessed by Nicola Ellis, the Lead Nurse, who accepted Mike as a patient, but also said that they would help me later on. The Hospice was wonderful but Mike deteriorated very quickly. When I could no longer care for Mike by myself the Hospice at Home team came out to help us. They were so warm, we were in awe of them. The love and care that came from them was amazing. Mike, who was my soul mate, died in September. Mike had said that he wanted me to move on with my life but I can’t because it feels like half of me has gone. The Hospice bereavement team were fantastic. It really helped me to talk about Mike to someone who was there just to listen to me. By January my health had deteriorated leaving me no longer able to even walk my dog or get out and about. The Hospice suggested that I join the breathlessness management group. This really helped me to manage my breathing and enabled me to join the circuits exercise group which is brilliant. Circuits has helped me to get my body moving again and I am now able to walk more and can once again take my dog for walks. I have also learnt that if I lose weight I may be able to have a heart transplant. I have joined the Living Life Creatively group which has provided me with the opportunity to meet new people and socialise. I have been spending so much of my time at home alone. I always feel so much more positive on the way home from the Hospice, it makes me smile again.