Patient Nigel Rose has proved his face fits when it comes to a hair raising fundraiser after netting £1500 for the hospice that is supporting him to live well with a life-limiting brain tumour.
A former manager for Walter Smith Butchers, Nigel had been in ‘perfect health’ for most of his life up, right up until last summer when he suddenly collapsed and started fitting during a business meeting.
Rushed to Walsall Manor Hospital in August 2017, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and was transferred to the specialist neurology unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
The 51-year-old explained: “I couldn’t believe it as I had no symptoms; I hadn’t felt unwell leading up to it. The tumour could have been there for months; there’s no way of knowing. It’s just unbelievable that I saw no warning signs prior to the incident.
“I’d gone to the QE expecting just to have a sample taken of the tumour, to test how bad it was, but the team wanted to operate on it straight away. It all went so fast, it’s just a blur looking back.”
After 10 hours of surgery to remove the tumour, Nigel was hopeful that all had gone well, however a major blood vessel had forced the surgeons to leave 5% of it intact. The severity of the remaining tumour came with the prediction of only a year or so to live.
He said: “It was definitely tough for all of us during the first few weeks after being told the news, but you need to be positive in these situations or else the gloom will consume you and you’ll give up long before the condition gets you.”
After six weeks of intense radiotherapy, the father-of-three suffered another seizure. While he came out of hospital a few days later, relatively unscathed, Nigel thought that Christmas 2017 would be his last.
But more than a year later he is living well with the help of his friends, family and Walsall Healthcare’s Fair Oaks Day Hospice at Walsall Palliative Care Centre.
Nigel has been making the most of the centre’s support and facilities – particularly enjoying the complimentary therapies such as reflexology and aromatherapy.
He said: “I know you can take medication that can help with anxiety but I really didn’t fancy that, so the nurses suggested I try some natural treatments that are designed to help you feel calm and in control.
“Foot massages and aromatherapy sounded a bit hocus pocus at first but they really have changed my life. The reflexology helps me feel relaxed and the breathing techniques have enabled me to find calm wherever I am – any time I find myself spiralling, I can use these skills!”
Alongside complimentary therapies, Nigel has found comfort in speaking to other service users at the hospice.
“What’s great about the centre is that you’re not just talking to the professionals; you’re also talking to people who are in a similar situation to you.
“Not all the patients have had the same experiences, but you can guarantee that someone has an idea of what you are going through and it really helps to know that someone really understands how you feel.
“I’ve met lots of fantastic people and I’ve laughed a lot. Most people expect it to be a miserable place but it’s one of the happiest places to be. Everyone is making the most of their life which means we’re all really positive.”
And to say thank you, Nigel, who lives in Walsall, took on a ‘Movember’ style challenge, affectionately known as the Big Fat Nigel Facial Hair Challenge; growing a number of funky moustaches while asking friends and family to donate their spare cash in support.
“I’m not physically fit so I didn’t want to do a marathon or sporting event, but I’ve always been good at growing a moustache, so I thought why not?”
The challenge raised over £1500 which will go towards social events for service users – encouraging fun and interaction.
Clinical Nurse Manager Tracey Grinell added: “Nigel gets a lot from his visits to the hospice but he also gives a lot to our other patients. He’s such as positive person and he makes others feel happier by just being in the room.
“It’s been lovely to get to know him, and his family, and we’re so grateful for this donation. It will really make a difference for our patients.”