Caring at Christmas: a young carer’s story

Caring for a loved one who is living with a terminal illness can be incredibly challenging, especially if you’re young. Morgan, 17, has cared for her mother, Jeanette, for almost a decade. Morgan talks to us about what it’s like to be a young carer, and how her family celebrate Christmas.

“I’ve been a carer for my mum, Jeanette, from when I was about eight years old, when she had ME. She couldn’t do things that other parents could do and I understood that she was in pain, so I started doing a lot more. I started looking after my younger brother more, and we became really close. I also look after my little sister.

Morgan her mum, Jeanette

“When Mum started having little seizures, I took note of it. She wouldn’t remember having them, and they got worse over the years. When I was 14 years old she had a CT scan, and that’s when we found out about the brain tumour. After that, I started doing a lot of the stuff Mum couldn’t do by herself. In the week, I get up and help Mum with the school run, then quite often I’ll stay at home and clean when Mum goes to work. In the afternoon we pick up my little sister and take her to gym club, and then bring her back home later. I also help with Mum’s hospital appointments.

“At Christmas, Mum likes helping with the cooking, but I’ll get up and put the turkey in the oven and help cut the vegetables with her. A few nights before, me and my brother and sister wrap all the Christmas presents for the family. On Christmas Eve I’ll wrap the presents from Santa and write the cards, and Mum will sometimes help.

"I liked being Santa..."

“I quite like that I could be Santa for my little brother and sister and the magic was there for them longer. When I was younger it was me who was downstairs making sure everything was ready, whereas when they were younger they could still have that experience of running downstairs in the morning believing everything was real.

“Our family got involved with Marie Curie about a year ago. I went to the doctors and a new doctor noticed that I had a lot on my plate and said ‘This is not really normal, you’re not getting any help’. They put me in touch with Lindsey, a Clinical Nurse Specialist from Marie Curie who introduced me to Jill and Jo, Marie Curie social workers. I talk to Jill and my sister talks to Jo, and we’ve built up good relationships there.

Support from the hospice

“Mum started visiting the Marie Curie Hospice for treatments around that time too. She gets help and support, and sometimes she has a cup of tea with Lindsey. It’s good because she’s speaking to someone where it’s like a friend, but she’s also getting support.”

Families like Morgan’s deserve as much support as we can possibly offer, especially at Christmas. Please help us continue providing this support, and consider giving the gift of hospice day care services this Christmas.