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20 Dec 2019 Personal Stories

Chris Cheshire’s story

Back in the summer, 54-year-old Chris Cheshire, of Moldgreen, was diagnosed with Stage 4 renal cancer. Following surgery, Chris was struggling with pain and mobility, and was immediately referred to Kirkwood Hospice for help and support. 

 Chris with Kirkwood's Community Specialist Nurse, Moyra


Back in 2018, Chris started suffering with back pain that couldn’t be managed. After booking a private MRI scan, Chris was told that he had a fractured vertebrae, for which he was immediately rushed to hospital for surgery.

In the days following his surgery, Chris was seen by a doctor, who gave him the news that during his operation they had found that he had Stage 4 renal cancer which unfortunately could not be cured.

Struggling with mobility, and still recovering from his surgery, Chris had adaptions made to his home in Moldgreen so he was able to live more comfortably.

Weeks after being back home, Chris was still finding it difficult to manage his pain and symptoms. Chris was referred back to St James’ Hospital in Leeds for Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy to try and help.

Chris said: “I was given Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy to try and help with the pain, but it didn’t seem to work.

“I was bed bound for around three weeks and was starting to struggle with my mental health, so the Palliative Care Team at Leeds Hospital suggested Kirkwood Hospice to me so I could receive extra support closer to home.”

Shortly after, Chris was admitted to Kirkwood’s In-Patient Unit for support with his mobility; he remembers been greeted by Staff Nurse, Anna-Marie, who he said instantly put him at ease.

Chris said: “It became apparent very quickly that Kirkwood was an amazing place.

“The staff have time for you. And in terms of mental health, the nurses were always there.

“When my wife Charlotte and eight year old son would go home, I would get upset, and the nurses would comfort me, and put their arms around me.”

When Chris was settled in, he was introduced to Kirkwood’s Physiotherapists, who were keen to get started in helping Chris with his mobility, and achieving his goals.

Chris said: “Walking is an important part of my life and is something I have always enjoyed doing. It is now something I am struggling with on a daily basis.

“I just wanted to be able to walk to the In-Patient Unit lounge area, I wanted to go to the toilet and have a shower independently.

With the support of senior Physiotherapist, Lisa Wright, who worked closely with Chris during his stay, Chris was finally able to achieve his goals, including showering independently. 

Chris said: “To feel the water flowing on me and to be able to shower independently was absolute heaven for me.

“The nurses were encouraging and praising, especially Auxiliary Nurse, Leon. I will never forget him, he is amazing.

“Just because I have a terminal illness, doesn’t mean I have to be restricted in what I do.

“Kirkwood gives you your dignity back. From the moment you get up, to the moment you go to sleep, it was about me. I was never rushed, and never made to feel as though I was a burden.”

Chris stayed at Kirkwood for a total of seven weeks for support with his pain management and wellbeing. As well as receiving physio, Chris was also introduced to other teams and services from around Kirkwood.

Chris said: “During my stay, I had Reiki and a foot massage from Angie and Sarah. It was so relaxing, I fell asleep both times!

Following Chris’s discharge home, he has still been able to use Kirkwood’s services.

Chris said: “I have been able to meet with the Family Care Team Counsellors, Tracey and Seamus, on a regular basis. They have been able to help me make sense of what is going on.

“I have also had weekly visits from Community Specialist Nurse, Moyra, who helps me manage my symptoms, and continues to encourage me to keep accessing the services.

“Kirkwood don’t abandon you when you leave the In-Patient Unit, they are always there for you.

“It’s just amazing how much is available to you not only as a patient, but an out-patient too.”

Chris has also been attending our weekly Men’s Space session which are held at Kirkwood for patients and carers to come together to share their thoughts, ideas and knowledge with other like-minded men.

Chris said: “The first session I went to, we were discussing poetry and literature. I just felt a spark and excited to go home and write a poem for the following week.

“I just want to be there as much as I can.

“Kirkwood feels like home, I feel like I’ve made friends there.

“Even though people are going through the hardest of times, it’s still full of joy.”

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