Liza Street, one of our great Activity Co-Ordinators based at Queens Court Nursing Home in Buckhurst Hill (Essex), sat down with us to share her remarkable account of beating breast cancer earlier this year.
At RCH, Our Activity Co-Ordinators share the crucial responsibility of planning and providing meaningful daily activities for the residents. These encourage engagement, interaction and stimulation. Our devoted activities teams work on getting to know each resident, so they’re able to tailor engaging activities around each individual’s interests, likes and dislikes.
Liza has always gone above and beyond her role at RCH and used the opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of her residents. She’s organised visits from reindeer at Christmas, set up regular community events, coffee mornings, Silver Sundays and summer fetes and more.
As it was International Nurses Day earlier this month and as a way to say thank you, Liza and her team set up a pamper day for cancer nurses and NHS staff at nearby St. Margaret’s Hospital in Epping on Friday 10th May, and sat down with us beforehand to both share her inspiring story, and take a moment to recognise the hard work and dedication of the staff and nurses who helped her during her treatment in hospital.
Hi Liza. We know you’re in our wonderful activities team at Queens Court. Tell us how you found yourself there and what you love about your role.
After being the Head of Creative Solutions at a large Legal Information Provider for 25 years, I decided to join the activities team at RCH in November 2016.
As I’ve been living in the Loughton area for over 48 years, I’ve got to know a lot of the people who live there. I love mingling with the residents in the care home, meeting their families and the local community. It’s the best part of my job.
If you’re comfortable sharing, could you tell us a bit about your cancer and how it was diagnosed?
I had a breast cancer scare in 2012, so was on the radar and went in for a routine mammogram in October to check for any developments. I received a letter through the post a few days later to attend further tests, at which point I realised that something serious was up. I went with my friend Lisa who sat in the waiting room as I went through various scans and tests.
I remember moments where a lovely lady stroked my hair during the biopsy and held my hand to reassure me. Mentally, I’m a positive and strong person that tries to smile and laugh through pain whenever I can.
After 10 long days of waiting for my results, my fears were confirmed, I had Breast Cancer. I would need a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
How did RCH support you before your illness and then during your treatment?
RCH have been very supportive during my treatment. They were kind enough to keep my job open, but I also had regular phone contact from the team too. They’d call to check in on me during the time I was off. I was welcome to come in at any time and they’ve helped me with phasing back to work once I was given the all-clear on February 26th and would not need any further treatment.
How does it feel being able to return to your residents following your treatment?
It feels wonderful coming back. When I was off work, I came in once a week just to meet with the residents during our weekly coffee and quiz mornings because I missed being with them. It helped me get back on my feet. Some of the residents themselves have had breast cancer and have been cancer-free for over a decade. They’ve been kind enough to sit with me and talk about their experiences. It’s been reassuring hearing from them.
Tell us a little bit about the pamper day happening on the 10th May
For the pamper day, I’ve got in touch with some of my beautician friends, and we’re planning on doing some hand massages, foot massages, and also giving out special handmade cupcakes to our guests.
You rarely hear about the good stories from the NHS. People can be very quick to complain but slow to give someone a compliment. You can’t change your diagnosis but you can change your prognosis. I’m helping to set up this pamper day as a way to say thank you to the amazing staff who have helped me throughout my treatment process. There’s an entire team of staff dedicated to helping people deal with one of the most difficult times of their lives. They’ve been incredibly caring and nurturing. I wanted to use this opportunity as a means of raising awareness of breast cancer and to say thank you.
‘It was just such a kind and generous thing to do for us. It was a lovely couple of hours and the cakes were delicious’ – remarked Kate, one of the pampered nurses on the day.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, you can get information, practical advice and support with Macmillan here.
To enquire about living in Queens Court or in one of our other care homes, please contact us by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will get in touch with you.