Having been a patient of the Haematology Department for the past ten years, I have nothing but praise for its dedicated staff who have treated me and my late wife with the utmost dignity.

Being an independent person, I was always able to cope with everything life threw at me. After losing my wife last year, having nursed her for the previous four years, life became a bit more difficult. Apart from the process of grieving, I seemed to be prone to all sorts of physical complications, which rendered me more dependent on others.

During my last spell at the RD&E, I was diagnosed with COPD following severe breathing difficulties. Two days after my discharge, I was due at Yarty day centre for a dose of maintenance treatment. On my arrival, Clare, the clinical specialist nurse, commented on my haggard appearance. She asked me if I was coping and whether I needed any support. She then told me about the Elf befriending scheme for East Devon. I was not aware of its existence, but became interested.

Debbie in the office put me in touch with Sue, the lady in charge of the team, and I was surprised to receive a call the following day to arrange a meeting at my home at a mutually convenient time.

Sue visited me the following day and we talked, which enabled her to choose a suitable befriender for me. Within a week Sue introduced me to Greg, who was to be my befriender. Her choice could not have been better, as Greg and I had a common interest, motorcycles. It had been years since I had ridden a bike myself but my interest had never faded. So we had a lot to talk about. Also, owing to my inability to walk by myself, having lost confidence, I was very grateful to Greg for walking with me down our lane. I was getting my confidence back.

Greg visited every week and he then he offered to take me for an outing. I did not feel up to at the time but looked forward to a future occasion. Imagine my dismay when I had a call from Sue telling me that Greg would not be able to see me for the time being as he was undergoing treatment himself. Greg also phoned me and I thanked him for his support and wished him well.

Soon afterwards, Sue said that she had found a new befriender and that she would introduce her to me. Imagine my surprise when Sue introduced me to Chris to discover that, like me, she was a poet and writer. We hit it off from the start, and her visits brighten my days, as we have so much in common. She even took me to Sidmouth for a long walk along the seafront and introduced me to her husband and her lovely little grandsons.

I did say at the beginning how grateful I was to all the staff at the department. All I can say now is that the befriending service of Elf is a wonderful and most welcome addition to a great service. It helps us who are receiving treatment, and who are feeling particularly vulnerable, plagued by anxieties and possible loneliness, to a more normal, acceptable life.

I would like to say thank you to Sue, Greg, Chris and all other befrienders who are giving up their time to help me and many others who require their help.

EW Peters


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