A woman who has cancer has thanked nurses at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough for ‘putting her back together again’.

Karen Rondan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, however was found to be allergic to chemotherapy and other conventional medication.

The cancer later spread to her spine causing paralysis – and after a lengthy hospital stay, the 66-year-old was finally moved to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in August 2017.

Karen, of Stamford, said: “I was completely broken when I came to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. I didn’t know a lot about hospices and I came here thinking it was a place for me to die.

“If I had known a little bit more about hospices, I wouldn’t have been so fearful. I’m a totally different person now to the one who arrived here and that’s down to the amazing staff here.

“It’s been like joining a family. Every single person here has helped me and I would like to help other people to see hospices differently.

“I would like to reassure people that hospices can actually be a fun place where you can have a bubble bath, play chess, pick flowers from the garden for your room, arrange for a volunteer to blow dry and style your hair or do your nails, create a visualisation board with your planned activity and all the other things along the way that gave me hope and have made me smile.

“The palliative care team at the hospital went to a lot of trouble to find me a hospice that was right for me after I ended up paralysed.

“Although there wasn’t initially a bed available at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, we agreed I should wait and fortunately, after three days, they told me that they had a bed. I just felt like I had been blessed.

“That first night I knew I was in good hands. After my first night in the hospice I felt like I had slept on a cloud. I felt so safe and secure and that is how it’s been ever since. I’ve felt there is no need to worry.

“The million dollar gift was that the hospice team were able to get me into a shower chair bath so I could actually have a shower bath and have my hair washed properly which just gave me back my dignity.

“The Sue Ryder Nurses are all so kind and caring but you can see that what they do is a passion for them, not a job. They all have it in their blood.

“They are empathetic and will go out of their way to make sure that you’re comfortable and have what you need.

“People genuinely care here. It’s the whole experience. You feel listened to and that is so reassuring. Before the nurses do anything they will tell you what they are going to do, explain why, and ask if you are comfortable with that.

“Communication is so important. I was just so broken when I arrived so it feels like a miracle, like I was given a winning lottery ticket.

“The hospice team have made me feel whole as a person again and helped me through everything because I was so confused about where my life was going.

“My pain is managed now and I’m ready to be discharged after 16 weeks.

“I’m a capable person but I felt like I had lost all that and given up on my life. I was given it back piece by piece.

“If I was a jigsaw puzzle, I came in here smashed into a whole lot of pieces and now I feel like that puzzle has been put back together again. I can see myself now and I can see a life and I can see hope.”