For our Time to Care appeal we featured Caroline’s story, very sadly, Caroline died peacefully at the hospice in late July. She was surrounded by her wonderful family, free of the pain which had been so disabling throughout her illness.
But the care doesn’t end here; the team at St Margaret’s have supported the whole family over the past 18 months, and they will continue to be there for Gary and the children, when they need us, as they start to face their new reality.
It was an honour and a privilege to get to know Caroline, even for a short time – her zest for life was palpable, even as her condition began to deteriorate.
Every day more people like Caroline and Gary are receiving the news that no one wants to hear. And while we can’t change the inevitable, we can – with your support – give people like Caroline the time and care they need to live as well as they can for as long as they can.
I am still Caroline
"The day I was told I had cancer I remember wanting to curl up in a ball on the chair and cry. I felt like I’d lost my identity, I suddenly became a 42 year old lady with Stage 4 Cervical Cancer when all I really wanted to be was mum to Sophie and Tom and wife to Gary. I didn’t want to talk about my diagnosis or have it define me.
"After my diagnosis, life was a roller coaster and I saw different oncologists and nurse specialists. I was referred to the In-patient Unit last March because I got to the point where I was doubled over in pain and was aware that the kids were seeing me crying all the time. It was obvious that I was in pain and I knew it was affecting them. I used to hear Sophie crying in her bed at night and I couldn’t get out of bed to reassure her which broke my heart. As a mum when you hear your children crying because they’re scared, all you want to do is comfort them, and to not be able to do that is heart breaking.
"I used to work as a ward clerk in Yeovil District Hospital and really enjoyed it. I was able to help people and was proud of what I was doing. The times I would hear the name St Margaret’s was when a person was very close to dying so when I was referred in my head I thought, “That’s it, I’m on my way out” but one of the first things the nurses said to me when I arrived was “you’re not here because you’re going to die”. It felt like she was reading my mind!"
Caroline in her garden
Discovering a new me
"St Margaret’s has helped me and my family in so many ways, coming to terms with my illness and my new reality. They’ve helped pull the family together at the worst time of our lives.
"We’ve spent a couple of birthdays on the In-patient Unit together which have been special. My first stay on the In-patient Unit was over my birthday and we were offered the Sunflower Suite so Gary and the kids could stay with me. Tom’s birthday fell over another stay and the chefs cooked us the most delicious roast that we ate together to celebrate and it was perfect.
Caroline, her husband Gary and her children Tom and Sophie
"My cancer has taken some things away from me, like walking. I used to love rambling down country lanes, looking for things that I could find for us to eat, I would find it so relaxing. I can’t do this anymore but St Margaret’s has helped me find other ways to relax. I’ve started having reflexology which I never would have had beforehand. It sounds very cliché but they’ve helped me find a new way to become me."
What St Margaret’s means to me
"St Margaret’s are not just here because I am dying. They are here for so much more. They’ve helped me and my family through so many difficult parts of my journey from enabling us to spend birthdays together on the in-patient unit to loaning me a wheelchair and frame to have at home which, has taken the stress out of hospital visits. They’ve made sure we as a family have been able to stay together and they understand the reality of what we’re going through. They have the time to help and care.
"For me, time is precious. Every minute and second I spend with my children is precious, I just can’t get enough of it. I don’t know how much longer I’ve got and I don’t want to know because I want it to be as natural, fun and loving as I can make it. I’m not going to see my kids get married and I don’t know what I’m going to say to them when the time comes – that will break me but I know St Margaret’s will help with that, they are amazing.
"Thanks to St Margaret’s, I’ve been able to keep my pain under control which has been the biggest battle. They’ve enabled me to be at home with my family as much as I can and have helped me face my reality. There’s no one else who could have given me and my family the time, support and care they’ve provided. Will you choose to do something incredible too? Supporting St Margaret’s can change the life of someone like me in our community."
Caroline on a relaxing walk