Sunderland couple want to change image of hospices

Terminal cancer sufferer John Hancock with his wife Irene at St. Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland.
Terminal cancer sufferer John Hancock with his wife Irene at St. Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland.
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A Wearside pensioner living with cancer is urging people to change their perceptions of hospices.

John Hancock, 72, of Sunderland, was diagnosed with prostate cancer 16 years ago, but the disease has since spread to his bones and he has been attending St Benedict’s Hospice, in Ryhope, as a day patient for symptom control and respite care.

When I was first told about St Benedict’s I said ‘I’m not going there, that’s where people go to die.’ But it’s about so much more than that.

John Hancock

The former bus driver was given just 18 months to live three years ago, but says St Benedict’s has played a huge part in helping him to stay strong.

The hospice has also helped wife Irene, 71, through its cancer care support group and both have used the complementary therapies on offer.

Now, the couple are urging people to change their preconceptions as part of Hospice Care Week.

“When I was first told about St Benedict’s I said ‘I’m not going there, that’s where people go to die’. But it’s about so much more than that,” said John.

“It’s like a family there. The complementary therapies are so relaxing you feel like you’re floating afterwards. It’s very uplifting going there. I think people think it’s a sad place, but it really isn’t,” added Irene.

“When John goes in for respite I get a break, but I also love going for myself and having a massage. It’s a bit of me time.”

Fundraising manager Catrina Flynn, said: “The Hancocks are an inspiration to many here with their positive attitude and we’re grateful for their support.

“Hospices are about so much more than the clinical support they offer, as John and Irene have shown. We’re delighted to be taking part in Hospice Care Week to get that message across.”