A CANCER patient who was struggling to manage his symptoms has found relief and comfort after discovering the care available at Havens hospices.

Bill Ashdown was initially diagnosed with cancer three years ago, which has since spread, and he has been struggling to control his pain and leaving him confused and hallucinating.

However during Dying Matters Week in May, Bill was made aware of the work carried out by Havens hospices thanks to an event at the Ironworks in Southend High Street.

Since then, he has been receiving support from Fair Havens, in Priory Crescent, thanks to his chance encounter with nurse Janet Taylor Fane.

Bill said: “If I hadn’t spoken to Janet that afternoon during Dying Matters Week, I would never have come to Fair Havens - I didn’t know anything about it.

“I built up a relationship with her immediately, trusting her convinced me to come to the hospice.”

Bill and his wife Kay have been together 30 years, raising five children and now reside in Southend.

Following the event, Bill visited the hospice, and has now been at Fair Havens for two weeks.

Even once his symptoms are under control and he can go back home, he will be allowed to return to Fair Havens whenever he needs support.

Bill added: “I hadn’t thought about it before, but now I have experienced what it is like at Fair Havens; I want to die here because I know I will die with my dignity.

“I worry about my family - I want them all to be OK. I know that staying at Fair Havens will help my wife, too.”

Assistive features such as a buzzer for round-the-clock care and specially arranged things he loves, like full-fat Devon’s cow milk and CD player to play his favourite reggae music, have improved his quality of life.

Bill continued: “I have never experienced care like this anywhere. No one has ever sat down next to my bed and talked to me as much as the nurses do here. They have time to sit down and chat with me, and they really care.

“I haven’t really had an appetite and went eight days without eating much. But the choice of food we can have is great. The nurses asked me what I liked and spoke to Fair Havens’ Bistro. They made me jerk chicken, rice, peas for dinner and a night snack of marmalade on toast. They did it all, especially for me.”