Phil Cooper, from Eastbourne, is a patient at St Wilfrid’s Hospice having been diagnosed with stomach cancer from asbestos contamination through work. Phil regularly attends Wellbeing courses and shared his experience of how being at the hospice has changed his life and helped him to begin writing his story.

‘The diagnosis changed my life completely. My diet and my general outlook on life altered completely last May. I feel that I have a strong reason for living because I have my wife, two sons and grandson as well as my sister who has motor neurone disease.

My GP referred me to St Wilfrid’s following the diagnosis - all the staff have been really helpful and the support has been brilliant. I have started going to church again to help me spiritually connect and to deal with my illness.

I have started writing a book of my life story. Some of my favourite anecdotes make me laugh and include how I went for a drink with my mates one night and we ended up gate-crashing a party – where I ended up meeting my wife! Another very fond memory is when I was given a gift from my aunt when I was 6 years old. I was so excited, as I had received this large, beautiful box from her. I imagined all sorts of things inside that square box – a lovely toy or an amazing set of tools. To my disappointment it was a hairbrush. What’s funny for me is that I still have that hairbrush now and have had it for over 60 years! On special occasions I get it out and use it to coif up my hair a bit.  

Sharing these memories of my life has been wonderful therapy for me and it’s all happened in the Wellbeing group I attend at the hospice. It’s so supportive to be with others in similar situations and just talk about our lives. I am very grateful for the time that I have got left –I’ve always enjoyed keeping in touch with people I have worked with and like to organise events to have something to look forward to and to focus on. In May it will be a year since my diagnosis and I am planning to celebrate with a big party. You have to make the most of it, don’t you?'

Co-written by Emma Riley.