Michelle Edwards is just 43 and was diagnosed with terminal metastatic breast cancer in her spine during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Incredibly, it was her beloved dog, Bobby Peanut, who sniffed the cancer out and prompted her to see a doctor.
Michelle said, “Bobby Peanut is my absolute world. He gives me cuddles, his licks away my tears and he actually found the initial cancer in my breast. Although the cancer is terminal, I am so grateful for his intuition which led to me receiving a diagnosis and finding the angels at St Barnabas Hospice.
“The moment the doctor said that I only had one to five years left to live was completely head spinning. My mind went blank and the whole world stopped for a millisecond. Then everything seemed to speed up again, but I was still miles behind. I still don’t think I have fully come to terms with it all.
“I was referred to the Hospice by one of the nurses at hospital and initially had mobility support from their occupational therapists, which was a huge help. Since then, I have been supported by the Welfare team with accessing benefits, as well as receiving counselling, relaxation sessions and tai chi from the Wellbeing and Community Services teams. You don’t think you need counselling, but I found that I was able to say things to my counsellor that I could never say to my parents. Even just talking to the nurses brightens up bad days and makes me feel stronger.
“What meant the most to me was that the nurses kept coming out to see me even though we were in the middle of the pandemic. That physical presence has been priceless. They have shown me that a terminal diagnosis doesn’t mean your life needs to end there and then. I am actually hoping to zip wire over the coal mines in Wales next year to raise money for the Hospice!
“When I saw that the charity partner for the Lincoln Imp Trail was St Barnabas Hospice, I was over the moon! I have even bought a miniature imp which I plan to paint in a dragon design. The full-size statues are incredible, and I particularly love the RAF imp in his blue uniform. All the artists are so talented, and I can’t wait to see the statues in real life.
“I’ve got my scooter all charged up and my friend is visiting from London in a couple of weeks. It will be great to show her the sights of Lincoln as well as all the imps. You don’t realise how important fundraising is to charities like St Barnabas until you’re in a position like mine. Accessing their services really does mean everything.
“The people at St Barnabas are not just there for when you die, they also help you to make the most of your life right up until that moment. They are there for the difficult days and for the better days. The Hospice is like the hug you need after receiving your prognosis. I am not alone and nor is my family.
“Without people raising money for the Hospice through things like the Imp Trail, people like me just wouldn’t have access to such incredible support and care. If I can give back half of what St Barnabas has done for me then I’ll always do what I can.”
The Lincoln Imp Trail is running across Lincoln until Thursday 16th September to raise money for St Barnabas Hospice. It features 30 individually designed, hand painted imps and has a handy app where you can log your visit and find out more about each statue.
Printed maps can be picked up from the Tourist Information Centre in Castle Square, or from the St Barnabas Imp Hub which is open in the Waterside Shopping Centre each Thursday to Saturday. Visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk/imptrail to find out more.