In February 2016 I went for a routine eye test when it was discovered that I had a small bleed behind my left eye. I was referred to the doctor the same day and then endured two months of numerous tests, scans, x-rays, and monitoring. In July I saw a consultant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who diagnosed me with IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis) and told me it would get progressively worse over the next five years. He said he could help me in the later stages with oxygen and morphine. This was a huge shock as no one had mentioned anything was seriously wrong with me.

I have always been very active having had a successful career as a residential care manager running two homes towards the end of my 39-year career. I have lots of friends and a close family who I see regularly and since my retirement have traveled extensively all over the world, including trips to China, India, and Africa as well as all over Europe. The diagnosis really threw me and I spent about a month feeling very low. I then decided to go back to my doctor as I felt that I should have been provided with some support to help me cope with the diagnosis.

The doctor referred me to The Norfolk Hospice. Nothing prepared me for the experience – everyone I met was smiling, happy and interested to talk to me. After my assessment, I was put on a breathing management course and then went on to do the fatigue management course. After six weeks I felt so much better. My breathing was so much better and I learned to take breaks without feeling guilty leaving me less tired.

I then joined the exercise group. I found this very helpful. So much attention was paid to me in the groups by the staff and wonderful volunteers who supported me.

Walking in the serene, calm and friendly Hospice became a highlight of my busy week; my only sadness was when I was well enough to be discharged from the service. It has given me the determination and strength to carry on and live my life to the full. Since being discharged I have fulfilled my dream of going to see the F1 at Silverstone – and watching my favourite driver, Lewis Hamilton, win! I am currently planning a cruise to Canada on the Queen Mary with my daughter as well as continuing with my active social life, seeing friends and family and playing crib – my diary is always full! I have also bought exercise equipment and continue to practise the exercises I learnt at the Hospice to maintain my fitness.

Although I am not coming to the Hospice anymore I know that when my condition worsens I will be able to return for more care and support.