Imagine twice beating cancer and then getting a different condition that left you confined to a wheelchair.
Woundcare4Heroes was privileged to support Army veteran Robert ‘Bob’ Barrett for eight years. Sadly, Bob died in March 2020, aged 69. The former Household Cavalry Trooper had twice beaten cancer before being diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome which destroyed the nerves at the base of his spine and left him paralysed from the waist down.
Funny, tough and optimistic, Bob joined the Life Guards, the most senior regiment in the British Armed Forces, in 1967 as a 16-year-old. He served for three years before leaving the armed forces.
In 2004 Bob found himself homeless. The Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation, for injured and sick ex-servicemen and women stepped in, and housed him in a flat overlooking Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge. Bob, who wanted to give back, set up The Beef Kitchen charity, serving football fans with all the profits going to Stoll. Field Marshall Lord Gutherie opened the café which still provides training and employment for ex-service personnel.
In 2010, Bob was recognised for his contribution to charity, winning the Royal British Legion Friends of the Forces Award.
Bob had been successfully treated for non-Hodgins lymphoma in 2005, a type of blood cancer, and then non-Hodgins lymphoma of the spine in 2010. Treatment was successful, but his right leg became massively swollen. His oncologist diagnosed lymphoedema, a side-effect of the chemotherapy. Then, about a year later, Bob found himself unable to walk. He was diagnosed with cauda equnia syndrome.
Confined to a wheelchair, Bob first got in touch with Woundcare4Heroes for help with pressure ulcers. As a complex case, he received one-to-one medical care and support. Speaking to this charity a few years ago, Bob said:: “My friend said I needed to see a tissue viability nurse, but they are like gold dust, so she researched online and found Woundcare4Heroes.
“Claire, from Woundcare4Heroes, knew exactly what to do and took over my wound care with support from my district nurse to make sure I didn’t get pressure sores any more. She provided me with the right ointments and dressings. She looked at where I slept, and the charity paid for a new pressure-relieving mattress, cushion and reclining chair.”
Woundcare4Heroes also arranged for a rapid referral and assessment of Bob’s hugely swollen legs. It had been five years since Bob had received any NHS treatment for build-up of fluid in his legs. For the rest of his life, Bob was visited three times a week by a specialist therapist, partly funded by this charity. His treatment included negative pressure manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), Kinesio Taping, bandaging and skin care.
“I don’t know what I would have done without Woundcare4Heroes. I was absolutely stunned that someone cared so much and finding out about the charity has certainly improved my life no end. I am a very lucky man.”