Pamela’s story – St Columba’s Hospice Palliative Care, Edinburgh

Pamela’s story

Pamela Curran decided to come to St Columba’s Hospice for pain management at the end of last year.

Pamela’s story image

During her month-long stay, Pamela received specialist treatment which allowed her to get her pain under control and taught her ways to help manage the pain herself.

Now living back at home with her gorgeous puppy, Myla, Pamela continues to receive support from our community team and wanted to share her positive experience with others…

“In August 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the Western General Hospital. Over time, the cancer cells spread and developed into secondary breast cancer affecting my spine and skull.

“At the time I was a qualified nursery nurse, but following my diagnosis I was forced to leave my job. I miss working with children so much, but it became increasingly difficult for me to do the job as I found I was getting tired very quickly. It was while under the care of the Western that I was introduced to Dr Laird who consults in Palliative Medicine at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, as well as the Hospice. Dr Laird visited me several times over the course of a few weeks to review my condition and help to get my pain under control. He advised that he thought it would be beneficial for me to come to the Hospice to get pain management treatment.

“At first I was apprehensive as I’d always been told that's where people go to die, but I remained open minded and positive and learned that wasn't the case at all. My family and friends were shocked and a bit worried when they heard I was moving to the Hospice, but I told them it was just for pain management, which made them less anxious. When they came to visit, they saw for themselves how wonderful it is. My grandson Jayden is just five and he loved coming in and spending time playing with the toys in the lona Café, while we would have cake and coffee. He also loved playing on the grass outside.

“If anyone was in any way unsure about staying at the Hospice, I would say there’s nothing to worry about. Everybody is so friendly and happy: you’re treated like royalty.”

“One thing that really surprised me about coming here was that there was so much to do. For example, I went in the Jacuzzi bath – it was absolutely amazing. I didn’t know that they had one, and the nurses kept saying they were going to give me a bath; it was so relaxing and helped so much with my pain. I also used the art room where I decorated my walking stick with dry flowers and I've even had massages and my hair and nails done.

“To me, the whole place feels like a five-star hotel because the food is absolutely amazing, everybody would do anything to help you, and everyone is so polite and happy. I could go outside when I wanted to, wander around the grounds or go to the café. The nurses would always check I was okay, so it felt nice to have the freedom to do my own thing in a safe environment. It was great.

“When it came time to go home, I was half looking forward to it, and half not. I live by myself with my puppy Myla so it was daunting to think of being on my own. On top of that, I knew my house needed to be adapted, so I was worried about that and what I would do if anything happened when I was alone. But at the same time, I thought if that does happen, I'll just get to come back! To make things easier, the day after I got home, the community team came out to visit and assess my house; they arranged for a new shower to be installed, the bath has been removed, I've got new entry system and I'm waiting to see if I qualify for a stair lift which would be so helpful.

“The whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive. From the moment I arrived I was treated like a person, not a patient. I made lots of friends and It was nice to meet new people that knew what I was going through in such a supportive environment. My palliative care nurse comes to see me on a regular basis and I go to Day Therapies every Friday. I love socialising with the group, seeing the care team, going for walks and using the gym. I know that if anything ever happens to me, I want to go to the Hospice. I feel like they have given me the confidence to live and I love reminding myself of the saying, 'Every day is a bonus'.

“If anyone was in any way unsure about staying at the Hospice, I would say there is nothing at all to worry about. Everybody is so friendly and happy; you’re treated like royalty. My family were treated equally well and thought it was an absolutely beautiful place. It's nice to think that as a patient I could give them a tour and show them the views across the Forth. It's all of the little extras that make the Hospice so special. They have thought of everything and I have nothing but admiration for the team of staff and volunteers.”

All patient stories

Share your story

Got a story you’d like to share?

We’d love to hear it, plus your stories can be encouraging and uplifting for others going through similar circumstances to you. Please send us your story in an email to