It was a Christmas Karen Spencer-Craig thought she would not see.

The 66-year-old was told she had less than two years to live after a devastating diagnosis but believes the support she has received as helped her prolong her life.

Karen said: "I’ve exceeded my cancer prognosis by two years and I truly believe it’s because of St Ann’s Hospice.

“I was told that Christmas in 2020 would be my last, but having surpassed my prognosis St Ann’s has taught me to embrace a newfound sense of positivity. If my story can help just one person that would be enough, whatever it takes to support the wonderful hospice.”

The Bolton News: Karen Spencer-Craig, age 66, is from Walkden

It was at the end of 2020 Karen was told she had less than two years to live, but has achieved so much in this time which she credits St Ann’s Hospice for.

Karen lives in Walkden, and lives very close to the Little Hulton hospice site, where she is now a medical outpatient.

In 2016 she was diagnosed with Uveal melanoma, a tumour in her left eye, which has now metastasized to other parts of her body, mainly her liver and bones.

Karen said: “I spent 20 years as a Sixth form teacher, but after retiring I got a job working in retail to keep me busy. It was there at work where I received the call being told I had a rare and life-limiting cancer diagnosis.

The Bolton News: Karen Spencer-Craig, age 66, is from Walkden

“Whilst grappling with the overwhelming news and unsure where to turn, fate intervened, and I stumbled upon a post on Facebook from St Ann’s Hospice about their Being You Centre. It felt as if an angel had landed in front of me, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I have now been part of St Ann’s Hospice’s community for 18 months. In a time of so much uncertainty St Ann’s have given me back a sense of control. There have been times where I’ve had a rage inside of me so strong it could turn me green. St Ann’s has helped me recognise where this anger is coming from and given me productive ways to deal with things I cannot control. That’s not to say I’ve given up or I’m lying down, but what I can do is control with how I deal with things.”

Karen and her family of 13 celebrated an early Christmas in November, getting together to make memories and have a happy time together.

After first getting her diagnosis, Karen struggled to tell her family, scared of how they would take it and not wanting to hurt them with the news.

“My journey has taken a beautiful turn. Three fellow patients and I, all navigating our own paths at St Ann’s Hospice, have come together to form what we affectionately call the TLC (Tuesday Lunch Club).

“Since being given our diagnoses, we’ve found it difficult to talking to family about our situations – but with our lunchtime club we can talk amongst each other honestly about what’s happening and how we’re feeling without a filter or guilt.

The Bolton News: Karen Spencer-Craig, age 66, is from Walkden

“These friendships would not have been made possible without St Ann’s Hospice. I’ve made friends from all different walks of life I would never have met otherwise. They are an integral part of my journey and I’m grateful to have been given the chance to meet them.”

The Bolton News: Karen Spencer-Craig, age 66, is from Walkden

“St Ann’s has been there for me and my family through the hardest period of my life but without sufficient funds, others like me won’t receive the help I do.”

For more information on how you can support St Ann’s Hospice to help people like Karen and her family, visit