Is medical marvel Gordon Lambert a very lucky man or a very unlucky man?
Well, that would be just down to your perspective. It certainly could be a positive outlook that has kept Gordon, 72, from Portland, going well past his predicted time.
Gordon, who has motor neurone disease (MND), is a passionate advocate for Weldmar, having benefited from many of its services – specialists in MND, day care services, complementary therapies, physio, occupational therapy, respite care and our nursing at home.
Gordon was diagnosed with MND on May 11, 2011 and given “14 months minimum, 18 months maximum” to live.
But six years later, despite his consultant telling him in 2011: “I wish you had cancer,” the former postman is still trucking. He’s bright, he’s talking – “though I can’t do anything for myself apart from eat these days” – and he really wants people to know how amazing the hospice service is.
He said: “People have the wrong perception of hospices. You can come in here for respite, which gives your carer time to recharge. The staff are dedicated, professional, caring people – I can’t praise them highly enough.
“We have wonderful meals, with a wonderful choice. The staff take you into their lovely gardens and will even take your medication outside to you.”
Gordon moved to Dorset from London when his two boys ‘came of age’, but lost his wife Ann to cancer aged 50, just 18 months later. She was cared for in a hospice in Christchurch, and he remembers the wonderful care she received. He moved then to Portland.
In 2011 he noticed stiffness, cramps and contractions in his hands and doctors puzzled over his symptoms, at first treating him for arthritis.
“My doctors had never treated anybody for MND,” Gordon said. “There are only 5,000 people with MND in the country at any one time.
“I went in for tests for something completely different, where they put electrodes on my arms and the doctor said, ‘Right Mr Lambert, let’s try it on your legs’.
“While undoing my trousers I fell and the person doing the test said to the nurse, ‘Oh, I know what this is’.
“I went to Dorset County Hospital and my doctor told me, ‘I wish you had cancer… at least then we could do something for you.
“I told him I was a very, very fit man after being a postie for 24 years. I used to swim from Newton’s Cove to Weymouth Harbour and walk from Portland to Weymouth every other day.
“But he said, ‘There lies your problem Mr Lambert. The people I’ve seen for MND are very fit – my patients include three jockeys, four athletes and two professional footballers’.”
The specialist told Gordon Weldmar offered services, linked to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) that would make his remaining time ‘as comfortable as possible’.
“I’ve been in here (Joseph Weld Hospice in Dorchester) three times for medical problems, which have all been addressed, and I’ve been in here twice for respite,” he says. The staff are par excellence, and treat you as an individual.”
Gordon has been a regular visitor to our day services at Trimar in Weymouth, where he enjoyed arts and crafts. Nowadays it’s hard for him to get out of the house, but our art therapists visit him at home.
He’s now got facilities at home to enable his partner Pat to move him, thanks to Weldmar and MNDA. “They do absolutely everything for you,” says Gordon.
So how has he managed to beat the odds?
“I have a strong will,” he says. “I can’t understand how I’ve accepted what I’ve got so readily. I think I always look on the positive side. There are always people much worse off than you.”
He added: “You could get angry, upset and depressed. But I now have people to do my gardening and cleaning, I have all the people here. You don’t have to go to heaven to see angels. You see them here every day. They treat you as if you are family.”