Elaine Buckley thought her guitar playing days were behind her when metastatic breast cancer spread to her bones, spine and skull. The cancer caused inflammation and compression of the nerves, severely affecting use of her left hand and arm.
A keen guitarist for many years, Elaine wrote her own songs and performed them in schools. Not being able to play caused her to feel a sense of loss, but since coming to the hospice she has been having physio and massage therapy, which have helped her to regain use of her arm. With encouragement from music teacher and hospice volunteer David Squire she has even started playing a ukulele.
“My whole life was writing and playing songs, I never used to go anywhere without my guitar” she said. “I’d been singing and playing in inner city schools for 25 years and it was a massive loss not to be able to play.”
“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use this arm again. The physio has helped amazingly. The exercises have strengthened my arm a lot and I can use my fingers. The massage has worked wonders too.”
“I got the ukulele because it is easier to hold and carry than a guitar. I’ve really enjoyed the sessions with David and I feel confident that I’ll be able to play and enjoy it.”
David, who teaches guitar, ukulele and music theory said: “She’s done very well. I’ve enjoyed it too and it’s nice to be able to help out and to give something back.”
Once she’s mastered the ukulele, Elaine’s next goal is to play guitar again, something she now feels is within her reach.
Mel Reizig, Physiotherapist at Nottinghamshire Hospice said: “Goals are hugely important for our patients. They help foster hope and can be a reason to keep going. Everyone’s goals are personal to them and here at the hospice we work as a team to help patients work on their them, big or small.
“Knowing what Elaine’s goal was, I was able to put together an exercise programme to improve strength and range of movement. She’s worked very hard on the exercises and it’s lovely to see that work come to fruition and to hear her play.”
Elaine has been coming to Day Therapy once a week since October after initially rejecting the suggestion. “Although I qualify for end of life care I didn’t like the idea of coming to a hospice. I didn’t think it was a place for me, but as soon as I walked through the door I felt comfortable. There is a warm atmosphere and I look forward to coming.”
Elaine’s husband Kev is her main carer. Her weekly visits to Day Therapy also benefit him because they let him have a break from caring duties.
For more information visit Nottinghamshire Hospice