Widow becomes companion for termanlly ill

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 June 2014

Stephanie Hancorn

Stephanie Hancorn

Archant

A WOMAN who spent years of her life caring for her terminally-ill husband is now dedicating her spare time to helping others in need.

Stephanie Hancorn, of Locking, cared for her husband Douglas for four years after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

The 65-year-old now volunteers as a community companion for Weston Hospicecare, offering confidential support to carers in a similar situation.

Mrs Hancorn said: “We had planned to go on the holiday of a lifetime to New Zealand, but when the test results came back the doctor said we should cancel it.

“It was like a bomb went off, I think we both went into denial and we found it really difficult telling the children.

“We had been dealt this hand and we had to decide what we were going to do with it, so we decided to do as much as we could while we could.”

Mr Hancorn had radiotherapy treatment which caused his hair to turn white and was given medication which extended his prognosis from 14 months to a few years.

When the medication stopped working three and a half years later, Mrs Hancorn became his full-time carer and went on a course to learn how to manage nutrition and fatigue.

After her husband’s death, Mrs Hancorn went to Weston Hospicecare’s buddy groups to meet people in similar situations.

She said: “After Douglas passed away I felt lost, I was wallowing in life, not living.

“I felt guilty that I was still here when Douglas wasn’t, we all had broken hearts, it was the end of our world, but the group helped us all. It helped us survive.”

Then she found out about becoming a volunteer community companion for the charity.

She said: “I knew it was something I wanted to do. It was my way of giving something back for all the support Douglas and I had received from the hospice.

“I like to think of myself as an informal ear for someone who needs to talk.

“I offer guidance where I can, sometimes it can be a case of just talking through the options and what kind of help is on offer, so they can make the decision on what they think is best.

“I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re alone, I’m always a phone call away.”

The companion team consists of volunteers with significant life experience – many of them having been bereaved and provided care for a loved one.

To find out more about the scheme call 01934 423975 or email compassionate.communities@westonhospicecare.org.uk

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