Cancer 0 Juliet 1
Juliet Muwenda moved to the UK from Uganda in 2005. She had been volunteering at Saint Francis Hospice's Harold Hill charity retail store for two years before she began to feel that something wasn't right with her body.
The pain started in Juliet's legs. She was diagnosed with a blood clot and started a course of treatment. Juliet was responding well, until one morning when she awoke to a sharp pain in her abdomen a pain so unbearable that she had to rush to A&E at Queen's Hospital in Romford.
Scans revealed that Juliet had a cyst on her left ovary. She was preparing herself for a cancer diagnosis:
"I was ready to hear that word because of how much pain I was in, but it was still shocking. I was scared. I thought I was going to leave my husband and children behind."
More tests showed that the cyst was cancerous. Juliet was on the operating table for a gruelling seven hours while surgeons determined whether the cancer had reached elsewhere. The cancer was spreading quickly from one ovary to the other. The surgeons at The Royal London Hospital were left with little choice but to remove her ovaries, womb, uterus, and all of the surrounding tubes.
Despite losing so many organs, Juliet found solace in the news that the cancer had not reached elsewhere. Chemo and radiotherapy followed, but Juliet didn't want to tell her children about her illness through the fear of it affecting their school work.
Once Juliet's hair started to fall out, she could no longer hide it from Kaylin, 9, and Kian, 11:
"Kian took it in his stride, but I know he was hurting inside. When Kaylin heard the word 'cancer', she couldn't stop crying and screaming."
Juliet took a year out from volunteering to beat cancer. We're so happy to announce that her mission was successful, and she is now back with us, kindly giving up her time to volunteer at our Hilldene Avenue store:
"I didn't want to be stuck indoors thinking about what took place. I often have to sit down while working as my legs become tired and painful, but Mary and Kate are such caring Managers. I feel so safe working with them.
"Thank you for the warm welcome I received after having been away for so long. Life is more meaningful now."
Our 820 volunteers give up 265,000 hours each year, which saves our Hospice £1.5m over 12 months. We aspire to have 1,000 of them by 2020. Without their kindness, selflessness, and generosity, our Hospice simply wouldn't survive.
We need volunteers to do lots of different jobs. You can put your skills to good use whatever they may be. Volunteers currently work in our shops, on reception, and at our events.
There's the chance to get involved in photography, filmmaking, finance, and gardening to name but a few. Some of our volunteers work on OrangeLine, helping people who feel lonely, isolated, or are going through a bereavement.