Caring for People in Harrow & Brent

Cancer patient Sharmila Doshi tells us about how transformational she has found our wellbeing services.

“A few days before my chemo I don’t know what was happening to my hands. They were fully stuck. Tonia managed to call the physio and massage therapist for me and Deirdre, the Complementary Therapy Lead, did a massage so that I can make chapatis again! I’m able to make my chapatis with the rolling pin. I was crying thinking I would never make them again any time and now it is possible, I was so happy when I made a chapati for the first time.”

Sharmila Doshi

Sharmila Doshi was shockingly and suddenly diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. She had no prior symptoms but went to see her GP because of stomach pain. Then following an MRI and CT scan at hospital, she was told that she had an 18cm cyst on her ovary. She had an operation on 16 November and then began on a course of nine chemo sessions over three cycles.

Tonia Canino, a clinical nurse specialist here at St Luke’s recalls the first time that she met Sharmila after receiving a referral.  “I went off to see Sharmila and at that time she wasn’t in particularly good health. In fact, the first time we met I had to send her into hospital as she was acutely unwell; her tummy was massive, full with fluid.”

Sharmila remembers, “Tonia came to my home two or three times, when I told her my hands were in too much pain and that I couldn’t move my hands to my shoulders. I had gone to the GP but they told me the waiting list for physiotherapy would take two or three months. It was then that Tonia recommended I try complementary therapy at St Luke’s Hospice. That’s when I started coming here.”

Deirdre Rice, Complementary Therapy Lead performing massage therapy

She continued, “A few days before my chemo I don’t know what was happening to my hands. They were fully stuck. Tonia managed to call the physio and massage therapist for me and Deirdre, the Complementary Therapy Lead, did a massage so that I can make chapatis again! I’m able to make my chapatis with the rolling pin. I was crying thinking I would never make them again any time and now it is possible, I was so happy when I made a chapati for the first time.”

The wellbeing services that are offered at the Hospice can be crucial to a patient’s enjoyment of life and it was not just the freedom to use her limbs again that Sharmila needed.

Tonia explains why she felt that Sharmila also needed to come to some music therapy sessions. ”Sharmila was really scared, weren’t you? Mountains of anxiety generally about the cancer, and you weren’t sleeping. I remember Sharmila saying to me, that the first day she took part in our deeply relaxing sound therapy with Alan she slept in the chair. That was without any sort of medication.”

Alan, Music Therapy Volunteer

Alan’s relaxation techniques were so powerful that Sharmila asked him to send them to her mobile phone so that she could use them at home. “Ever since then I’ve done it all the time.”

And since then, Sharmila says that the Hospice has been like her second home – “You feel like you’re at home and you’re happy, you know sometimes people with a serious illness can feel low but once I came here my mood was lifted by more than half.  Tonia is like my mum. She’s amazing. It’s lovely. Everyone here is nice. I told my family, “if you find out you have cancer – you should go to St Luke’s Hospice, the people are very nice, nicer than family members!”

“I often feel dizzy as a side effect of the chemotherapy and I don’t go out of the house, but I make sure that I’m coming to St Luke’s on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Every person I’ve met here in St Luke’s, everyone has shown me lots of love. They all look after me.”

Sharmila still has nine more chemo treatments to go but she is feeling positive and importantly, the wellbeing treatments are helping her to feel well.

She adds, “Thank you for helping me to feel positive again. I love it here. When I feel better I want to volunteer at a charity shop or make some food and bring to the patients. I’ll do textile work, I’ll make my sarees and dresses. You give me the positivity to do this again.”

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