Helper volunteers support people at Christmas

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for people living with a terminal illness; having someone to chat to over a cup of tea or a mince pie can make all the difference, which was the case for Carol.

Days before she was due to retire in 2010, Carol discovered that her cancer – which had been in remission for 13 years – had returned. In October 2014, she was told by doctors that she had six months to live. Shortly afterwards she was introduced to Emma, one of our Marie Curie Helper volunteers.

Carol, 65, and Emma, 39, quickly formed a strong friendship and, despite her prognosis, Carol is still making the most of every day alongside her family and partner. Carol says she relies on Emma’s support to help her to keep going.

“Emma and I clicked right away – she’s just fantastic,” says Carol.

“It’s nice having someone to talk to. I think sometimes you can’t talk to your family because it upsets them; if I feel down or if I have to go for a scan I can tell Emma.”


Emma, who is currently training to be a nurse, respects Carol’s strength and positive attitude. ”She’s just so inspirational, that’s the only way I can describe her.” Carol found Emma’s support particularly valuable last December.

“Christmas is a massive thing in Carol’s family,” Emma explains. “She’s got three daughters and one had gone all out because it was going to be their mum’s last Christmas. That’s the one time I’ve seen her upset; but once we got over that little blip she was so upbeat.

“She appreciated having that person outside the family to offload onto and to listen; that’s what we’re there for.”

“It’s the little things…”

Carol and Emma’s time together can vary each week, with the two of them sometimes going to the shops, getting a coffee, or (during one particular visit) watching Emma’s children and Carol’s grandchildren playing together. “We just take one week at a time and see what I fancy doing,” says Carol. “It’s the little things that mean more than the big things. That’s what’s helped me with the cancer really; you‘ve got to enjoy each day.”

The kind of support provided through the Marie Curie Helper Service is important all year round, but it’s especially vital at Christmas. Help us bring together people like Carol and Emma this Christmas by funding training for a Helper Volunteer.

If you're interested in becoming a Helper volunteer or you'd like to learn more about the Helper service in your area, you can register your interest with us to find out more.