At 37, Matthew Allcock is one of the youngest patients at Fair Oaks Day Hospice – and arguably its most active, calling it his ‘family’.
But he has also had to contend with – and overcome – his fair share of trauma, having had a brain tumour.
Matthew lives in Leamore with girlfriend Lindsay and her three daughters and a son. He believes the tumour might have been something he was born with.
“I had cells removed from the tumour in 2018 and it made my left arm and left leg go floppy and left me unable to write with my right hand for a few months until all the feeling and movement came back,” recalled Matthew, who is unemployed and was also left with slurred speech, depression and anxiety.
Matthew was referred to Walsall’s Fair Oaks 18 months ago and has had a more stable time since.
“I was referred here by Macmillan,” he said. “It’s great coming here because it’s full of lovely people – I have made friends with the nurses and the other patients and I do arts and crafts and the quizzes.”
Regular visits to Fair Oaks have helped Matthew develop his social skills again.
“Coming here has instilled a lot of confidence in me because I was depressed but I feel comfortable now meeting new people,” he added. “It’s exciting really.”
Matthew finds it really beneficial to share his experiences with other patients who are going through similar things.
“Nigel, who sits next to me, also has a brain tumour, so we discuss issues that affect us and we go through good times and bad times together.”
Not surprising given his more tender years compared to several other patients, Matthew likes to keep himself busy. Amongst other things, he attends relaxation therapy sessions.
“At the relaxation sessions, they play whale music and I end up lying down and snoring because it sends me to sleep!” he says.
“I am a wind-up merchant – the staff say ‘hello trouble!’ when they see me! I also go to the gym, swim, walk and do jigsaws, as well as help out with the kids.”