"Caring for Mum is an absolute privilege"

Sandra Clode, 49, from Sully in Wales, has been caring for her mum, Helen, for three months. For Carers Week, she wanted to share her story.

Sandra sharing a drink with her beloved mum

Being a carer changes you as a person

“I feel stronger than I thought I would be. I appreciate things much more now and never take anything for granted, living life to the full.

“To begin with, I felt a bit guilty about some of the feelings I was getting, about it getting on top of me, that I shouldn’t be feeling like that.

“As most of my time is spent caring for Mum, I’ve realised that I shouldn’t feel guilty, it’s normal to want to do something for yourself sometimes.” 

One from the photo album: Sandra's mum with her dad

Mum’s an inspiration

“I have learnt so much about Mum. She is such a strong person, I reckon that's where I get my determination from. She has done so much with her life and has got such an amazing group of friends who have been a huge support.

“Mum had been in hospital for eight and a half months. Although her condition’s terminal, she hasn’t been given a prognosis. Initially, they said weeks or months but it’s been 11 weeks since she’s been back at home and she’s doing really, really well.

“Since she was taken ill the connection between us has become stronger and I usually know what she wants before she asks me, which can be quite scary sometimes!” 

Marie Curie makes things less frightening

“It’s a pretty full-on, intense situation to be in, so having Marie Curie there – even just in the background – makes life that little less frightening.

“I have a weekly phone call with Liz, a community Marie Curie Nurse Manager, who checks on Mum’s condition and my welfare.

“Twice a month I visit the Carers’ Café at the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and the Vale. It’s somewhere to meet other carers to share experiences and emotional support, or just take time to myself.

“I always find that when I go to the hospice, it feels like there’s a weight being lifted off my shoulders. You walk in and there’s always somebody with a smile on their face and to talk about how you’re feeling.

“I would do anything for Mum, but I wouldn’t be doing so well without the support I get from Marie Curie.”

Sandra wants to make the most of the time she has with her mum

Making the most of what we have

“We’ve always been close, but I think it’s an absolute privilege to look after Mum. She’s done so much for me over the years, to actually return that favour and have that time with her without feeling guilty about anything, and being able to think I haven’t got to rush off, we can do whatever we want.

“We’ve got to make the most of the time we’ve got left. It amazes me how strong Mum is, she never complains.”

If you have questions about terminal illness, need support or just want to talk, call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309. It’s for anyone affected by terminal illness, including family and friends.