"If someone told you that you had 18 months to live, you wouldn't think that was much. But when you're in constant, unrelenting agony, it's a very long time. I can honestly say if it wasn't for Fair Havens I would have thrown myself under a bus.”
Chiz was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel in May 2012 and began having treatment. By September, Chiz was clear of the cancer but by the following May he began experiencing excruciating pain in the left lower side of his back.
His wife Chas said, “I had to watch him for months, writhing on the floor and screaming in pain, unable to help him.”
Scans revealed Chiz had developed four new tumours on his spine, lung, rib and collar bone.
"You sit there trying to understand everything you've just been told, but it is such a blur whilst they're telling you this life changing thing," said Chas.
Chiz started intense radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and was taking steroids.
"There are so many nasty side effects of chemotherapy. I didn't even have the energy to stand up I became so weak. The skin on my hands and feet fell away; standing in the shower was like being on ice, my feet were so smooth they had no grip.”
"Unfortunately," said Chas, "Chiz had every single side effect from the steroids. It was a dire time for me. Yes, he had a lot of energy but he couldn't sleep for more than two hours at night. His face was so puffed up he didn't look like him anymore. He was angry, paranoid."
"When you're ill, you don't see any of that but I started to get the shakes, anxiety. It was horrid.”
By the end of January 2014, Chiz was almost bedridden. Although his condition improved, the pain in his back soon returned and Chiz was in agony. “The drugs weren't working anymore and I couldn’t handle the pain. I needed help. I didn't want to go to the hospice but I would've had to carry on the way I was and it would have been a far harder journey.”
Chas said, "The pain has been so bad he has asked me to shoot him."
“The stark difference being at Fair Havens rather than in hospital is that even though the doctors were perfectly able to look at his notes, they wanted to start at the beginning, to get to know him as a person not just a disease. They start at the bottom and work their way up.”
"I know pain, I've experienced real pain before but not like this. It's on a completely different level,” said Chiz. “If someone told you that you had 18 months to live, you wouldn't think that was much. But when you're in constant, unrelenting agony, it's a very long time. What would be the point in living?
"What they're dealing with is a specific problem, individual to me. I am under the microscope here and the difference to being in hospital is that they have the time to look at things properly. They are able to react and make changes quickly to keep on top of the pain. Whatever it is they keep going."
"However, it could be so much better. Visually there are too many similarities to a hospital, and I found that difficult to come to terms with because of bad experiences I'd had. I understand it's all there for a reason and to allow people to do their job but another patient might not have the same mentality."
“Somewhere modern and purpose built, with a less clinical feel, would put people at ease a lot quicker as they would associate it with happier times, rather than a place of illness."
“Once the pain is out of control it takes over everything and even simple communication becomes hard. It was lucky that I was able to stay at the hospice in an upstairs bedroom but if in the future I couldn’t, knowing that help is there but I would have to wait would be a terrible mental blow. Some people would not have the strength of will to bear it. Carers would also find this extremely difficult as all you want is your loved one to be out of pain and as quickly as possible."
“All in all a stressful time becomes even worse."
“A new hospice would mean these very difficult times become simplified, comfortable and safe for all involved, knowing your wishes will be respected and that every form of specialist care and support is available to you."
“Since staying at Fair Havens both Chas and I have become advocates of all they do but for any member of the local community - you never know when you in turn may need their help."
“How can you not help to make the new hospice a reality? If we were millionaires, we'd give it all to Fair Havens. Forget how lovely they all are, I can honestly say if it wasn't for them, this level of care, I would have thrown myself under a bus. I've often thought about it. I dread to think what this town would be without Fair Havens - there are no alternatives for people like me.”