Paying it forward – why Louise wants other families to receive the care her mum got
Louise Stacey lost her mum, Pat, to bowel cancer in 2010. She tells us how that experience led to her passion to help others.
Most of us, given the choice, would want to be at home with loved ones in our final days.
But the level of help available to families going through this difficult time is often lacking, says Louise.
“You think that support is there” she says, “but it’s not there unless someone puts the funding towards it.
“I never thought that this was ever going to happen to me, but it did.”
A strong lady
Louise’s mum was fit and active. Her diagnosis of terminal bowel cancer took Louise completely by surprise.
“Mum was a very strong lady who always worked very hard. She was fun, liked her drink, loved her food and was just very vivacious. A very young 67 when she died.”
After the shock of the diagnosis, Louise was left to care for her mum at home - especially difficult as she was six months pregnant, with another young child to look after.
Frightening and isolating
“What really shocked me was I was at home on my own with my Mum,” remembers Louise.
“If you’re in a hospital you have nursing care and experts there so you feel comforted by that. But in a home environment, you can be overwhelmed by it all and it’s really frightening.
“It was all the things I had to do, like getting Mum out of bed or taking her to the toilet, or if she was being sick, and just giving her medication.
“I was gobsmacked by the situation – my understanding was that the care for my Mum at home would be there.
“It was only towards the end that I said: ‘I need help, I can’t do this on my own.’”
Having someone there
Louise’s mum died in October 2010.
“Rose was the nurse on duty. It was quite poignant because my mum’s mum was called Rose.
“It made a huge difference having someone there who was medically trained. I knew nothing was going to save Mum but having that Marie Curie Nurse there meant that I didn’t panic.
“As my mum was dying the nurse was there, and she was saying: ‘It’s ok. It’s ok.’”
Louise was referred to Marie Curie, and a Marie Curie Nurse was with Louise when her mum died.
“The nurses were great - they just fitted into our home,” says Louise.
“Having that nurse at night – when you open the door you just feel relief. It meant that I could actually try and get some sleep.
“During the day, nothing seems as bad but the nights were a bit more sinister and scary.”
A lifelong passion
After the care her mum had received, Louise wanted to do something to raise money for Marie Curie.
“I offered my time to help with collection boxes during March, when my son Noah was only a couple of months old. I put daffodils and badges all over the pram, with a sign saying: ‘I never got a chance to meet my Nana. Please help other nurses.’”
Bitten by the fundraising bug, Louise decided to run a coffee morning and raffle.
At that first coffee morning she raised an amazing £3,000 – and has since gone from strength to strength.
“With the last one we raised over £10,000 - all from a little coffee morning. No one can quite believe it and I can’t either.”
Getting the message out
Louise wants to keep fundraising for as long as she can – so that more people can receive the care she had for her mum.
“It’s not just about cancer, but Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s, Stroke, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. I need to spread that message.
“And yes, it’s a nice feeling knowing that I’m making a bit of a difference. To date I believe I’ve raised close to £50,000.
“I know my mum would be hugely proud. I know she would be thinking: ‘That’s my, girl, that’s my daughter.’”
If you're feeling inspired by Louise, why not get involved with the Great Daffodil Appeal? Find ideas for fundraising, volunteer to collect or make a donation. All your effort and donations will bring care and support to people going through one of the toughest times any of us will face.