Joanne’s Story

I had heard about Hope House but wasn’t too sure about what they offered and it took me a while to contact them but I am so glad that I did! I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and had mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy. I was a single parent with an 8 year old son and really only my parents for support. Unfortunately, I was rediagnosed on World Cancer Day and had to have emergency surgery to remove my bowel as the cancer was now in my bones, skin and stomach with the stomach tumour attaching to outside of the bowel and causing a major blockage. I was now officially incurable. This time my parents had both passed and I felt so alone, my son was now 17.

I made contact online with Hope House and later had a lovely chat with Dawn. I was offered two weekends one for myself on my own and another with my ex partner who has been so supportive since re-diagnosis. I felt I needed time away on my own to get my head cleared but I also wanted to do something nice for my ex partner. Dawn was amazing and totally understood where I was coming from. Shortly after Dawn called me and offered me two nights as someone had cancelled. It couldn’t have come at a better time as I had been feeling quite low. I didn’t know what to expect but whatever it was I was totally overwhelmed with my experience. I found a little piece of heaven on earth and a new friend. Dawn is amazing and talking to her was like talking to an old friend, she is the perfect person to head this charity.

Hope House was so peaceful and calming. It feels like home but a home without any stresses. I fell in love with Hope House immediately. My couple of days there were perfect. I walked around the local village and into the shops and talked to locals. I treated myself to meals in a cafe and I did the walk to the lighthouse. This was such an achievement for me as since my re-diagnosis and surgery I had not been very active. It took me hours to do it I was so uplifted and proud of what I had done that day. I read and crocheted and sat in the bay window and watched the sea and the sail boats. I had time for me with no interruptions from daily life. I felt calm, peaceful, relaxed and re-energised. Those couple of days in Hope House were bliss they allowed me time to not think about my illness or pending hospital appointments. How could you possibly feel scared or ill in Hope House in those beautiful surroundings by the sea? I came back home feeling so much better both physically and emotionally than I had in such a long time. Those few days have me my spark back! I went back with my friend and he was amazed by Hope House and he could see the weight of the world instantly lifting off my shoulders when we arrived there.

I managed the walk to the lighthouse again and finally saw the caves! What a fabulous experience it was. It’s like you are seeing the world with different eyes. You are seeing the beauty and tranquility that most of us don’t get to experience during our daily lives.
I am so grateful to Dawn and her team at Hope House for allowing me to have this experience. It has helped me immensely. I came to the realisation at Hope House that I can’t control my illness but I won’t let it control me either. I came back and started making plans, a thing I would never have done thinking there was no point as I may be too ill or even not here to do them. The time I had at Hope House and the sense of achievement of walking to the lighthouse allowed me to renew my faith in myself and give me confidence to look at life head on. I have started working in a job that I previously only did as a hobby, doing complementary therapies, a couple of mornings a week. I don’t think this would have happened without my visits to Hope House. It is an extremely healing place and it has captured my heart completely. I honestly don’t have words to describe how special Hope House is. It would be such a loss if it wasn’t there as I know I cannot be the only person who feels the way I do about it. Dawn had a vision and I am so grateful her vision became a reality and I don’t think she will ever realise just what she has achieved and how she has helped so many people in the same situation as myself.


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