Needing a stairlift to get upstairs is something older people need. But that is not always the case. Catherine Scott looks at how it has improved the life of one young cancer patient.
“You never think for a minute you won’t be able to get upstairs at the age of 33. But I didn’t think I’d be struck down by cancer.”
Thirty three-year-old Lucy Moore from Skipton was diagnosed for the second time with cervical cancer in July last year and has undergone weeks of chemotherapy and the knowledge that her condition is terminal.
Months of complications since her diagnosis meant Lucy lost much of her mobility in and outside of her home. “I’ve been in tears crawling on my hands and knees to get up and down stairs as I’m in so much pain,” she explains.
“My muscles are wasting through lack of use and although I’m having lots of physiotherapy, walking and climbing stairs is currently just too painful, especially after chemotherapy”.
But Lucy says her life has been transformed by the gift of a stairlift, the generous donation of a family in Gloucester.
The Acorn stairlift had originally been fitted in the home of cancer patient Jayne Edwards. Sadly, Jayne died before being able to use the stairlift and her husband Neil asked Acorn to donate it to the Sue Ryder Foundation, the hospice which cared for his wife, where it could be re-installed in another home.
Sue Ryder’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Valerie Bone said: “We received Jayne’s stairlift in November and after visiting Lucy recently I knew she was the perfect candidate for such a worthwhile donation.
“A key element of my role is to make sure patients have the best quality of life for as long as possible.
“I work alongside other healthcare professionals to ensure we offer the best service possible to enable patients to have quality of life by managing their symptoms and minimising pain and discomfort.
“It is important to provide patients with any support that can help them feel better be it emotional, medical or practical. Equipment such as stairlifts can have a very important role to play in supporting anyone with a condition that affects their mobility.
“They are freeing and create a much-needed feeling of independence for anyone being cared for at home.”
“I never expected to need a stairlift but I never expected to be in this situation either,” says Lucy.
“Having a stairlift donated was so unexpected but has been literally life changing. Since the stairlift was installed my life at home has been transformed. I was getting to the stage where it was too painful to go outside.
“I will get so much use out of Jayne’s stairlift and above all, it has made a difference to how I feel about myself simply by restoring my dignity.” Lucy has also had an external stairlift fitted to allow her to get up the steps to her front door.
“It was my wife’s last wish to be able to get upstairs with dignity and relative ease when we were nursing her at home,” explained Neil who has a daughter, two sons and a six-month-old-grandson. “It was sheer agony for Jayne to climb the stairs but, we were told by one supplier that they’d need five weeks to make an assessment and fit the device in our home – the devastating thing was, we knew Jayne didn’t have five weeks to live. Despite Acorn’s best efforts to fit the exact stairlift we needed within a day, Jayne never got to use it. Simply knowing the stairlift was at home, that someone had listened to us and moved so quickly to help, brought her peace of mind.
“I can truly appreciate what Lucy has been going through and I’m so pleased to know that some good will come of Jayne’s stairlift and that Lucy will benefit from having it in her home.”
Determined not to let her prognosis get her down, Lucy is planning for the time she has left.
She’s planning her wedding for this May and an enormous celebration for everyone she loves. She’s also made a list of all the things she wants to do in the time she has left.
“You just have to get on with it,” says the pragmatic Yorkshirewoman.
“All my friends and family have been amazing. They have put together a Facebook page, Lucy’s Wishes, which includes all the things I would like to do in the time I’ve got left as they all cost money. They even held a ball for me which was amazing.
“I just want to spend the time I have left creating some wonderful memories for my friends and family.”
A cancer with few early signs
Cancer of the cervix, also known as cervical cancer, is an uncommon type of cancer.
Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. If you have symptoms, the most common is unusual vaginal bleeding, which can occur after sex, in between periods or after the menopause. Abnormal bleeding doesn’t mean that you definitely have cervical cancer, but it’s a cause for concern. See your GP as soon as possible.
If your GP suspects you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.