Sandra’s last Christmas with her mum

Sandra Clode has been caring for her mum, Helen, for the last nine months. Sandra explains what Christmas this year means to her, as it could be the last one spent with her mum, who is terminally ill. 

Sandra and her family loves Christmas

This year, Sandra is looking forward to spending Christmas with her mum, Helen, at home.

Sandra says: “We don’t know what’s around the corner but while there’s something for Mum to look forward to and focus on, she will. She’s a real fighter!

“At this point, every day with Mum is a blessing. I’m grateful for the time that we have together.”

Sandra's mum, Helen, would make Christmas dinner every year before she was ill

Not the same without Mum at home

Sandra and Helen both love Christmas. Sandra would make her own greeting cards and start decorating her home in late November.

Sandra says: “It’s the build up to it all that we enjoy. And we have three Christmas trees to decorate!”

But Christmas last year was not Christmas as Sandra remembers it. Helen was in hospital, where she needed round-the-clock care.

Sandra says: “It was strange not having Mum at home for Christmas. She would always do the cooking every year, and that was the first time I ever cooked the Christmas dinner.

“So this year, it will be lovely having Mum at home. She’s enjoying bossing me around at the moment, and come Christmas Day, she’ll be supervising me from her bed while I prepare our family dinner!”

Sandra finds being able to care for her mum an 'absolute privilege'

Being there for Mum

When Helen was finally discharged after spending eight months in hospital, Sandra decided to give up her job so she could be her mum’s full-time carer.

Sandra says: “The connection between us has become stronger and I usually know what she wants before she asks me, which can be quite scary sometimes!

“We’ve always been close, and I think it’s an absolute privilege to look after Mum. She’s done so much for me over the years.

“It’s wonderful to return that favour and have the time with her without feeling guilty or thinking I have to rush off to do something else.”

Sandra wants to make the most of the time she has with her mum

“No question is silly”

Although caring for her mum is a rewarding experience, Sandra finds that she has good and bad days.

Sandra admits worrying about many things, and when she wants to make sure she’s doing the right thing for her mum, she gets help from the Marie Curie Support Line – a free service for anyone affected by terminal illness.

Sandra says: “No two days are the same. It’s tiring sometimes, trying to sort everything out. I would do anything for Mum, but I wouldn’t be doing so well without the support I get from Marie Curie.

“It’s fantastic to know that you can just pick up the phone and someone’s there for you.

“If you’re not coping, to know that the Support Line is there for you, so someone can talk through things with you, can help ease that wobble.

“You might think you’re asking a silly question, but no question is silly because everyone worries about different things and everybody’s circumstances are different.”


The Marie Curie Support Line is open every day throughout Christmas and into the new year. If you have questions about terminal illness, need support or just want to talk, call the Support Line for free on 0800 090 2309. It’s for anyone affected by terminal illness, including family and friends.

You can also find more information on our website about being there for someone with a terminal illness.