Hazel's Story

Hazel Milbanke, 65 from Forest Hall, Newcastle, retired from her job as a Health Care Assistant at the end of 2018. After her long career in the NHS, Hazel wanted to continue making a difference. But it wasn’t until she experienced the care at St Oswald’s Hospice offers, that she came up with a way to do just that.

Diagnosed with Lymphoedema which was causing swelling in her legs and feet, Hazel’s GP referred her to St Oswald’s Hospice for treatment, to improve and manage her condition which was causing her pain and difficulty when walking. Hazel explains:

“When I was referred to the hospice, I must admit I was a little nervous, I associated hospices with end of life care, which I had lots of experience of in my work with renal patients. But after researching their Lymphoedema service ahead of my first appointment, I felt reassured and just hoped that they would be able to help me with my condition.

“While I was waiting to be seen, I saw a little girl only about 4 or 5 years old, with both of her legs bandaged. It looked like she had the same condition as me, but she was laughing and skipping down the corridor. Her happiness was infectious and I immediately  felt more at ease.”

It was around this time that Hazel decided to make plans for her future and spoke to her solicitor about making her Will. She wanted to ensure it was legally binding and her main concern was to make sure her wishes were clear, should the worst happen. Hazel has no children (other than the four legged, fluffy variety) but she owns her property. While making her Will, she made the very generous decision to name St  Oswald’s Hospice as one of her beneficiaries.

“I wrote down all my wishes in an exercise book so they were clear and my solicitor was able to make a legally binding Will for me. One of these wishes was to leave the proceeds from the sale of my flat to the hospice’s Lymphoedema service. This is my way of saying thank you, for helping me understand my condition and how to use the treatment and advice given. I hope that this money will make a difference and allow the wonderful staff there to care for others, as they have done for me.”

Hazel’s Will also includes details of where she would like her ashes to be scattered, alongside those of her cherished pets, something which she says many people don’t consider but really should think about.

“A Will isn’t just about money or property. It’s a way to make sure those left behind understand exactly how you like things to be done and to prevent any confusion or upset at a difficult time. I think everyone should have a Will and not leave it too late. I have also arranged and planned my own funeral, which at 65 might sound a bit morbid but it has put my mind at rest and now I can focus on enjoying life right now. An accident a few years back meant I saw my life flash before my eyes and we never know what tomorrow might hold.”

Hazel continues to access the services at St Oswald’s Hospice, as the staff supports her with her Lymphoedema.

“The service has helped me. I have face to face and telephone appointments, have learned bandaging techniques, and established a routine for applying steroid creams to keep the symptoms under control. The staff have also taught me some exercises to help. I am still able to get out and about.”

On why Hazel chose to share her story with us, she finished by saying:

“I am a private person usually, but I think it’s important that people talk about things like Wills and preparing for the future. My family is fully aware of my wishes and I just hope that one day, my final gift to the hospice can help someone else going through a difficult time.”

If you would like to join Judith and leave a gift in your Will to us, we have lots of helpful information to get you started. Visit our Gifts in Wills page to find out more.

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