Sixty-three-year-old Simon Finch from Banbury has been using Living Well since the service restarted in March when Covid restrictions began to lift.

Simon was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 2019 and was referred to Katharine House for palliative care.

"Prostate cancer is often referred to as an ‘old man’s condition’ and it’s quite unusual to have been diagnosed when you’re only 59. I didn’t know I had it, as I had no noticeable symptoms until I contacted my GP with acute chest pains. By the time anyone realised, it was too late for a cure. Since then, my advice to all male friends and family over the age of 45 is to have a simple PSA test with your GP to avoid such an incurable advanced disease.

"After I was first diagnosed, Ali, my Katharine House community nurse, came to see me quite a few times in my home but not long after that we had the dreaded Covid outbreak. It was a difficult time."

Simon admits that, at first, he wasn’t sure about coming into the hospice for Living Well. He said: “But in the end I just thought, if I don’t try, I won’t know. And I’m so glad I have.

"I didn’t have any idea what a hospice really did. There’s this perception that it’s somewhere you come to end your time, but it’s not like that at all.

"It’s not at all what I expected. I thought that it might all be a bit formal and maybe a bit impersonal and rushed, but it isn’t like that. It’s very enjoyable.

"I didn’t realise it was going to be so relaxed. I’ve been to previous groups that were more focused on the illness, rather than on wellbeing, which haven’t worked so well for me.

"I didn’t know it was going to be so caring, so supportive and so informative. There is so much empathy here. People understand your condition and what you’re going through. It’s enlightening to receive all this support and respite."

Simon went on to explain how much enjoyment he gets out of the activities provided by Living Well, particularly the photography, silk work and creative writing.

"Part of the opportunity that Living Well provides is the activities; the chance to do something you wouldn’t normally have done. The sessions have been really inspiring. I’ve had the chance to rekindle my hobby of photography and have found new hobbies too. 

"Rather than focus on what you can’t do, you’re learning new skills. I’ve had two strokes, which have caused confusion and some cognitive issues so doing something with my hands, which also exercises my brain, has really helped me - just having that stimulus of doing something practical."

Simon, who has a son and step-daughter, has enjoyed putting his new skills to good use, making gifts for friends and family.  

"It’s like a release. It gives me more sense of purpose. I unfortunately cannot work and I have health issues and now, as you can imagine, mental health issues, which has also led to financial issues. This place helps you to break that cycle. Through Living Well, I can escape my worries. It helps me take a break away from it all and not focus on my worries and helps me to break out of that spiral."

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Katharine House Hospice