“Christmas dinner and visits from the cat lifted Mum’s spirits”

Susan Brown’s mum Shirlie was cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice, Belfast over Christmas in 2013, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Now you can help us offer care and support when people need us over the festive period by making a donation

“Mum was apprehensive and emotional about going into the hospice. She’d been in hospital before that but they found it hard to control her pain. But the medical staff changed her medication and within a week they had her pain under control.

"Mum had a beautiful large, private bedroom and bathroom. There was a great staff-to-patient ratio; she had a named nurse; and the food was excellent.  Best of all it was a quiet, happy and calm place. She frequently said: ‘How was I lucky enough to get in here?’

"Mum’s partner Philip was able to stay and have Christmas dinner with Mum in the room – they both got presents, hats and crackers and the meal was lovely."

Visits from a feline friend

“A bonus was being able to bring in Buffy – one of Mum’s five cats – to visit. I brought Buffy to the hospice three times. Buffy didn’t even bother exploring – she was completely at home. She loved sitting on Mum’s bed, or, if Mum was sitting on a chair, then on her knee.

“I put a notice on Mum’s bedroom door, Please knock, cat in room, just in case Buffy would run out unexpectedly and get lost. This encouraged staff and visitors who wanted to see the cat to come and talk to Mum about Buffy and about their pets. It was so cheerful and lovely.  Buffy just lay on the bed and purred and enjoyed all the attention.

“It definitely lifted Mum’s spirits that we could bring Buffy to the hospice. She really looked forward to the visits and to telling the staff about her cats.

"Philip, my Mum’s partner, also brought his cat into the hospice. Tiger enjoyed sitting at the patio doors and watching the birds on the bird feeders which we had put on the bushes outside.

“Mum was a very kind and generous person. She’d worked in hospitals and, once she retired, did a car boot sale every week.

"Mum loved painting, making her own clothes and making jam. She represented Northern Ireland and Ireland in international Bridge competitions. She loved animals and had five cats.

Purr-fect company

“At the end of January 2014, Mum was well enough to no longer need to stay at the hospice, so an organised discharge was planned.

"We cared for Mum, with visits from a district nurse and carers, until the day she died. Marie Curie kept in touch by phone and always offered help.

"The district nurse arranged for a Marie Curie Nurse to sit up overnight with Mum to give the family a rest. She came upstairs and said Mum’s breathing was slowing. We were able to go down and be with her. Mum passed away that night with her cats asleep beside her, but it was so peaceful. It was as perfect as you could make it and exactly what she wanted.”

This Christmas, help our nurses care for more people like Shirlie when they really need us. Donate now.