160 APPEAL: Julie repays kindness with therapy skills

Julie Haynes retrained as an occupational therapist after losing her husband, Richard, to  cancer

Julie Haynes retrained as an occupational therapist after losing her husband, Richard, to cancer

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HER HUSBAND’S passing following a protracted battle with a brain tumour and the unfailing care he and their family received from Prospect Hospice therapists and nurses prompted Julie Haynes to reevaluate her life by herself offering patients assistance and guidance.

Just five years after losing her partner, the mother-of-two chose to sit on the other side of treatment and give back by retraining as an occupational therapist, and is currently shadowing staff and bringing comfort to hospice patients as part of her degree.

Julie’s husband Richard Tweddell was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2004 after suffering three seizures within eight weeks.

In July 2005, he underwent a difficult operation – during which part of the growth was removed – followed by courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. When it appeared his condition was incurable, he was given between three and ten years to live.

This is when the young father was referred to the Wroughton hospice. Yet, as many like him, the prospect of hospice care was too much to handle for Richard who very much perceived hospices as bleak and frightening places patients came to die.

The family were assigned a community nurse who completely transformed their outlook on Prospect and most importantly acted as a welcome emotional brace through distressing months adjusting to the inevitability of Richard’s terminal prognosis.

Soon Richard attended the charity’s day service and they were both supported by occupational therapists and the family team.

“He loved going to the day centre,” said Julie, 38, from West Swindon. “It was somewhere different for him with different social interactions and it was a day for me to relax knowing he was safe and looked after.”

Swindon Advertiser:

The couple with their daughters on their wedding day

The couple married in April 2009. Richard died at Prospect nearly a year later in March 2010 at the age of 33.

The relief and comfort Julie experienced at the hospice allowed her to gain perspective on her life and find her vocation. After a foundation course, she applied to the University of West England in 2012 to become an occupational therapist.

Julie, who has raised funds ever since Richard’s death for the charity, returned to Prospect in a professional capacity for a ten-week placement in January as part of her course requirement.

“After Richard passed away I received a lot of support from the family support team and the bereavement team,” she said. “I got to a point where I needed to think about what I wanted to do long term.

“The occupational therapy team had helped us and allowed Richard to stay at home as long as he could. At the time I was fascinated by occupational therapy because I had never heard about it before until we came across the team as a family at Prospect.

“I think it’s a way for me of giving back and to show my gratitude for the support they gave Richard and my family. Coming back here has brought back a lot of memories and it gives meaning to why I’ve now chosen that profession. It really inspired me.”

Speaking about the reasons which prompted her to return to Prospect as a temporary staff member, she said: “It felt logical to come here. I found it all through Richard. I wanted that experience for myself to enhance my journey as a student.

“Prospect, for me, is somewhere that feels safe and comfortable.”

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

  • By cheque: With the donation form in the Adver
  • By card: Online through the donate now button, www.prospect-hospice.net
  • In cash: Prospect Hospice reception in Wroughton, Prospect Hospice retail shops or the Swindon Advertiser office are all taking payments
  • Prospect Hospice can also take card donations over the phone – contact the fundraising team on 01793 816161
  • Taking part in an event for Prospect? Why not donate through our appeal – let us know via email on 160appeal@swindon advertiser.co.uk or call us on 01793 501806.

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