Katrien is currently being cared for in the Stepping Stone Hospice In-Patient Unit in New Market Park. Though she has fully recovered from the dreaded virus before being moved to the hospice, she has not fully come to terms with what has happened to her and finds it difficult to talk about her experiences, not just as a lung cancer patient, but as a Covid patient as well.
“I still cannot believe what this year has brought to my doorstep,” she says. She describes herself as relatively healthy, but started coughing quite a bit in early March this year. “Treatment for sinus and bronchitis did not help, and it was only once further tests were done, that I was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.”
A few days before her 2nd chemo session, Katrien developed severe stomach cramps. It was suggested that she gets herself tested for Covid 19 and it was at the 2nd chemo session that she received the news that she was positive.
“All I can remember, was that I was moved with a wheelchair to the ICU. I woke up three weeks later not knowing what has happened to me. I was told that I was on a ventilator, fighting for my life.”
Katrien, a mother of two sons and grandmother to three, said that her biggest concern at the time was that her family couldn’t visit her and she feared that they didn’t know what was happening to her.
“When I woke up, I was partially paralysed, one of the effects of the virus. But not even that frightened me as much as the fact that I couldn’t see or talk to my family,” she says. Katrien spend another two weeks in isolation until she was given the all-clear and was then moved to Stepping Stone Hospice on June 10.
“Though I was very scared to come to hospice initially, I cannot tell you how dramatically my health and my mental state improved since being admitted here,” says Katrien. “Though there is also restricted visiting hours here at hospice, my family can visit me at least once a day. The nursing staff, physiotherapist and the psycho-social teams tend to all my needs, and I can watch the little birds in the garden outside my room.”
According to Sister Margi Bollman, Care Services Manager at hospice, Katrien has shown remarkable progress since admission. “We had to be sure that she recovered fully from Covid before we could admit her. We continued with the specialized care she needed and it is heart-warming to see how the sparkle in her eyes started coming back. She has been through a lot and I am grateful that we as a team at Stepping Stone Hospice can now assist her on the rest of her journey,” says Sister Bollman.
Katrien de Beer here with Ann Venter (left) who looks after Katrien’s psycho-social needs whilst Sister Margi Bollman (on the right) keeps a close eye on her clinical care.