Dave's story

Last updated: Friday, 22 March 2024

When Dave Jones was told his cancer had spread in 2020 he felt unsure about the future and struggled to accept his terminal diagnosis.

Dave was referred to St Margaret’s Sunflower Centre in Yeovil in the Summer of 2022 after oncologists at Yeovil District Hospital told him he could benefit from the support it offered but he was apprehensive about coming to the centre.

“I had a vision of going to this group and seeing old ladies sat up in chairs doing their knitting, wrapped up in blankets and I was unsure it was for me,” Dave said. “But I’m an in for a penny and in for a pound sort of person and thought I would give it a go, and I did not regret it.

“When I first came to the Sunflower Centre I felt very down about my diagnosis. I was feeling the same way as I did when I found out I had cancer back in 2019 and really struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis. I was very aware of my own mortality, and I wasn’t sure how long I had left or how I could make the most of it.

“But after a few weeks at the Sunflower Centre I settled in beautifully with the group and I absolutely love it. The group is not just about the patients but the staff and the volunteers too. It’s a wonderful form of therapy. You can go there every week and speak to people in similar situations which helps to bring you back to earth rather than wallowing and spiralling downward towards the end.”

Staff at the Sunflower Centre encouraged Dave to get involved in art therapy sessions run by our Supportive Care Services Team which he said have been ‘a massive support’ to him and helped to give him a new perspective.  

“Art therapy is not something I had ever encountered before but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing,” Dave explained. “I started off by creating some paintings, I wasn’t very good at it when I started but I got better as time went by. This helped me see that there are other possibilities and hobbies to be explored and the art therapy sessions create a safe environment for patients to talk to each other in confidence whilst in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

“It’s been a wonderful experience and now it’s something I look forward to doing every week.

“The biggest thing the Sunflower Centre has given me, and many others is a change of attitude which is absolutely life changing. I don’t know how long I have left to live, a week, a month, a year but I want to spend the time I have left living, not just existing. The team has helped me to accept my illness and empowered me so I can live as well as I can, for as long as I can.”

Dave said coming to the Sunflower Centre is ‘the best start to his week’ and he wants to spread the word about this ‘amazing service’ so more people can benefit from it too.

“The staff and volunteers at the Sunflower Centre are absolutely fantastic, they have nothing but your best interests at heart,” Dave said. “Many of them have experienced the impact a terminal illness can have on a person and their family, and they can offer you a huge amount of support, even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.

“One thing I’ve learnt during my time here is people will take what they need from the Sunflower Centre. Some will get more out of it than others. Whether it’s support to control their breathing, a massage to ease their pain or help to accept their illness and plan for the future, the team is there to help you with whatever you need.

“The Sunflower Centre has had such a huge impact on me, and many others. They have excellent facilities you can access like therapy treatments from the Complementary Therapy team and a fantastic gymnasium where you can work on your breathing and mobility with the Physiotherapy Team which I know make a real difference to people.

“Being with a group of likeminded people really helps with loneliness and gives you mental freedom. You spend time with people who you become friends with, who understand what you are going through and you get a real sense of companionship in the group which you may not be able to get at home.

“I’d encourage you to support St Margaret’s raffle so you can help the Sunflower Centre to support more patients like me when they really need it. It really does make a massive difference.”


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