“Marie Curie Nurse Pam gave us that one pure moment together as a family before Steve passed away”
When Steve was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his wife Louise decided to move the family to their spiritual home in Suffolk for a last Christmas together. Louise cared for Steve at home, but was struggling to cope; that’s when Marie Curie Nurse Pam arrived at her door.
"Steve was diagnosed with stage 4 oesophageal cancer. He had Aspergers, and he didn’t like going to hospital. They said the cancer was terminal and that he had 12 months to live. Steve just wanted to live normally and get on with life.
"We live in Surrey, but our family’s true home is Kessingland, on the Suffolk coast. We lived there for 20 years and it’s where Steve grew up. When he became ill, that’s where I knew he wanted to be; it was the place that made him stronger and he could be at peace there. So we bought a caravan and moved there in early December 2015.
"We have two children, Millie (19) and Joe (17), and they both have autism. They were quite straightforward when it came to being told about Steve’s diagnosis, and both wanted to help their dad.
"Millie was a mother-hen around her dad and Joe would run to the shops whenever needed. We all pulled together and got on with things, but by Christmas the children were finding it tough. They weren’t coming out of their bedrooms really.
Struggle for care over Christmas
"We’ve always enjoyed Christmas, and the kids opening presents around the tree. Steve wanted to be at home, and I promised him that he wouldn’t have to be in hospital. We really struggled over Christmas with getting care for him, and come Boxing Day he was immobile. It got worse after that. He struggled to move, and one night he fell out of bed and I couldn’t get him back in.
"A friend had suggested asking for support from Marie Curie. I asked the district nurse and she said it would take a while, but the next morning I received a call saying that a nurse would be with us that evening.
“Pam came into the chaos and brought calm”
"Pam arrived at 10pm that night. I was so tired. I had hardly seen my kids and I literally burst into tears and the dogs were going nuts. But Pam came into that chaos and brought calm.
"The kids were in their rooms as usual, but when they came out to see who had arrived, Pam somehow got them to stay. Joe just started telling Pam all these corny jokes and Millie started drawing these amazing pictures. We sat around bed laughing, talking and sharing memories while my daughter held her dad’s hand.
“We wouldn’t have made it through without her”
"We stayed up until 2am and then Pam said to me: “You better get some sleep, that’s why I’m here.”
"When I woke up at 6am, Pam was still there. I made a cup of tea and sat next to my husband, and he just went. It happened just like that, in the morning sunrise with the sound of the sea, just as we wanted it.
"I don’t think we would have made it through that night without Pam. The last few hours my kids spent with their Dad were happy. It was peaceful.
Home for Christmas
"This December we’re going to stay in the caravan – we’re going home for Christmas. I’m quite looking forward to it and my aim is to make it a nice day for the kids.
"What was amazing about Pam was that she somehow just connected with the kids, and with my two, that’s hard to do. She fixed everybody that night. We were at breaking point and she held it together – she held us together.
"I can never truly express the most heart-wrenching thanks I feel for the stranger who came and gave us that one pure moment.
"If an hour of your time collecting or making a donation could help fund an hour of care from someone like Pam, isn't it worth it?"