‘Being here feels like the best thing that has ever happened to me’

Former MasterChef winner Peter Bayless is currently receiving care on our Inpatient Unit. Following a 40-year career in advertising he won MasterChef in 2006 and has been an independent chef ever since, working for chefs such as Michel Roux Jr and as a private chef in the French Alps. He has also worked closer to home at the Greek restaurant Pilio Café Bistro in Heathfield.

He has been a keen supporter of the hospice for over 10 years since he started playing the Local Hospice Lottery. In 2019 he planned and catered our exquisite winter banquet – a seven-course dinner for 80 guests held at the hospice. We spoke to Peter to hear more about his care.

‘In February 2021 I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer which was metastatic and in the lymph nodes and bones. I had been feeling unwell for a while but had found it difficult to see a doctor. I eventually saw a private consultant who gave me the news. The doctor told me that my cancer couldn’t be cured but it could be treated and that otherwise I was a fit and healthy young 74 years of age. 

‘Over the next year I started various treatments to include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. One of my favourite features is my wavy hair so I was worried about chemotherapy. My doctors told me I could complete ice therapy at the same time as chemo which would allow me to keep my hair. I had to wear a cap with a helmet through which my head was frozen. I was told it would take half an hour to defrost my head afterwards! Despite the pain of the therapy here I am today with all my hair!

‘I had six sessions of chemo but was then told that it wasn’t working anymore so I moved on to radiation. I was doing well until April when I suddenly fell in the garden. I had the realisation that I couldn’t move at all. Luckily, I had my phone in my pocket and was able to call 999. 

‘I stayed in hospital for the next two weeks. That was a very low point. I heard I had been referred to the hospice and being here feels like the best thing that has ever happened to me. The doctors quickly refined my medication so that I could feel as good as possible. The difference to my mental state since being here is outstanding, I feel like a completely different person. 

‘It is all the little details that make a difference here. The Hosts are amazing, bringing me cake and warm drinks. I need a lot of personal care, but the staff here make it ok, not something awkward. The food here is brilliant and my wife Jacks can visit anytime she wants.

‘I still don’t have much mobility, but I hope this can improve during my stay here. Joe, one of the hospice’s Physiotherapists has been supporting me along with Luke, a physiotherapy student, and I have been going to the gym daily. We have been working on getting up and swinging my legs to the side so I can sit on the side of the bed. I managed this so I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together. I don’t feel under pressure or rushed here.

‘Although I had known about the hospice through my support of its work, I had no idea of the full support available. I also didn’t realise that people could get support even if they weren’t at end of life.

‘I do miss cooking and have started thinking about a trolley I can make so I can still cook at home even if I am confined to a chair! Being at the hospice has given me space to think about moving forward.’ 


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