Merv's Story

When Merv Durant was diagnosed with cancer and had a stroke last year, he thought his saxophone playing days were behind him. He’d lost the feeling in his fingers and was struggling with his breathing as the aftereffects of the stroke and the effect of cancer took hold.

Merv, Sunflower Centre patient in Taunton. St Margaret's Hospice Care

It was a difficult time for Merv as he went from being an active man who loved playing saxophone in local bands to being unable to press keys saxophone keys and struggling to breathe. Merv was referred to St Margaret’s as clinicians thought he could benefit from the support St Margaret’s Sunflower Centre could offer – and he hasn’t looked back since.

“When I first arrived at the Sunflower Centre, I was nervous, but I was instantly greeted with smiling faces which immediately put me at ease,” Merv said. “My hands were painful, and I was struggling to breathe, I felt very vulnerable, but I spoke to Lisa about my issues, and she was so supportive and helpful.”

“One of the first things she asked me was if I had any goals I’d like to reach, and I replied immediately and said, ‘I want to play my saxophone again,” Merv said.

“I’ve played the saxophone for years and it’s my favourite instrument in the world so getting back to playing it was really important to me,” Merv said. “I’ve played in bands at holiday camps all over Somerset from Pontins in Brean to the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare and wanted to get back to doing that.

“To help me to reach my goal, I met with a lovely physiotherapist called Laura who gave me some exercises to do at home so I could regain the strength in my hands. They were easy to do and the difference I felt in just a few weeks was remarkable.

“She also came up with an exercise plan to help me with my breathing. Sometimes I find hard to take in air and it can be a struggle to get my breathing under control which can really affect me mentally. But the support Laura gave me has meant I now feel confident at managing my breathlessness when I’m doing things I love.

Merv playing saxophone at the Sunflower Centre in St Margaret's Hospice

Merv playing saxophone for staff and fellow patients in the Sunflower Centre, Taunton. 

“Thanks to the support St Margaret’s gave me, I am now playing my saxophone again! I can practice for 30 minutes every day and am now looking for a new band to join so I can share my passion with everyone. It’s amazing!

“Coming to the Sunflower Centre in Taunton has been a wonderful experience for me as it’s helped me to build my strength back up. It’s also been lovely to meet other people who are in a similar situation to myself as they’ve been very understanding about my feelings and have been a great support to me.

“Now, my new goal is to keep practising so I can play in a band again as making music is I love to do the most!”

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