Margaret Philips has dedicated much of her life to caring for others. A retired Occupational Therapist, Margaret has spent more than 20 years of her professional life in Africa, working with leprosy patients in Uganda, Ethiopia and Lesotho.

In December 2017, Margaret was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affects the bile ducts. Along with nausea, weight loss and persistent tiredness, Cholangio Carcinoma is accompanied by extreme itchiness. For Margaret, this has been one of the hardest symptoms to deal with: “You itch constantly, from your head to your toes, even behind your eyes.”

Operations to insert stents into the bile ducts gave Margaret huge relief from her symptoms. But when the itchiness returned In October last year, Margaret’s GP suggested she go the Heart of Kent Hospice for symptom control.

Like many people, Margaret had only really considered a hospice for end-of-life care and, initially, she resisted the idea. It was only when her symptoms became intolerable that Margaret finally agreed to go and the experience has been a revelation: “I had no idea the Hospice offered so many different services to such a broad range of people. The care is so personal and the volunteers are truly wonderful - if I’d been well enough I would have been inspired to join them.”

After 19 days in the Hospice and a procedure to insert new stents at Maidstone Hospital, Margaret’s symptoms were subsiding.  She was looking forward to going home and seeing her house and garden, where she receives regular visits from a Hospice Community Nurse Specialist to ensure her symptoms continue to improve.

“My time at Heart of Kent Hospice has been quite exceptional. The staff really get to know you and are so sensitive to your needs – they know when you want company, when you need to be distracted, and when you want to be left alone. It’s been such a privilege to be here.”

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