“My motto is Carpe Diem”
Meet Clare. She believes in making the most of each day. Working as a Marie Curie Nurse for the past nine years, Clare provides care for people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones in the comfort of their own homes. So they can make the most of their days too.
Becoming Marie Curie Nurse after losing a loved one
“I was in restaurant management and had lived abroad in Barbados and Arizona for 14 years until – like a lot of people – I lost somebody to cancer. I had such a positive experience with the nurses who cared for my loved one; they determined my path for me. I was looking for a career change, and that set me on the path towards becoming a palliative care nurse. I wanted something good to come out of something bad.”
Remembering the importance of family
"As a Marie Curie Nurse, you’re entrusted with a lot of responsibility and people are placing a huge amount of trust in you. I think it’s important to remember what it feels like to be on the other side of the uniform, and you need to take that into you’re working practise every day.
“This is especially so when you meet a patient whose family have been caring for their loved one for months or years. No one knows the patient better than the family or person who cares for them, and as nurses we respect that.”
Giving a couple a final night together
“I remember an old chap who'd been married for 65 years, and I arrived to care for his wife. He thought because I turned up I'd send him to bed and they'd never slept apart – so of course I wasn't going to send him to bed! We made a makeshift bed next to his wife, and he slept holding her hand that night. It was their last night together – and it's a memory he will hold, and I do as well.”
Starting difficult conversations
“Sometimes it's difficult for people to talk about dying, and they feel safer talking to a nurse about it. Sometimes a patient is nervous about starting the conversation with their loved ones – they don't want to upset them – and vice versa! So you end up initiating the conversation between the two, and that can work really well. It's a difficult conversation to start, and if someone 'neutral' like me can help with that then we're doing a good job.”
The most rewarding job
“People often assume Marie Curie only helps those with cancer - but we'll help anyone who's going through a terminal diagnosis. I've helped people with Motor Neurone Disease, kidney failure, dementia, heart failure, COPD and so on. No matter what your diagnosis, at the end of your life we'll care for you.
“Being a palliative care nurse, I can honestly say, is more than I expected in a good way! It's not until you're in that position that you realise how much care there is out there for patients and for family.
“Working as a Marie Curie Nurse has changed the way I live my life. My motto is Carpe Diem - I've got it tattooed on my wrist, and I live by it every day.”
Every day of your life matters – from the first to the last. We believe everyone living with a terminal illness should be able to get the most from the time they have left, however hard that may sometimes feel.
Give money to Marie Curie today so nurses like Clare can support more people through terminal illness.