“It takes a special kind of person to be a Marie Curie Nurse”

My first wife Sylvia was a nurse who loved to be able to help people. By collecting for Marie Curie I can help make sure others can have the kind of care she gave, and later received herself at the end of her life.

Kelvin with a photograph of Sylvia, his first wife who was cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice where she had once worked as a staff nurse.

Sylvia started her career in nursing in about 1958, at the Royal Free hospital. She had quite a varied experience nursing in the community; she was a school nurse, a family planning clinic nurse, and she also worked at a hospital for children with mental and physical disabilities. She loved it, every bit.

Sylvia started working as a staff nurse at a Marie Curie Hospice in 1991. As with all her nursing, she enjoyed being able to help people.

Looked after with love

In September 1993, Sylvia was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, which eventually spread to her liver. I knew that I couldn’t do justice to looking after her in the way that she deserved. The Matron at the hospice offered her a bed and I was absolutely delighted to think that the people who had worked with her and loved her were able to look after her.

Sylvia was delighted to be there as well. She realised that I wouldn’t be in the position to do all the things necessary to look after her, whereas they could. Sylvia loved them and they loved her. She was in the hospice for about six or seven weeks before she died in September 1994.

Giving back

The first time I raised money for Marie Curie was in that same year. I organised a dance in our local village hall, and took the cheque to the hospice. In 1997, I started up a collection point at my local shopping parade in Sanderstead, collecting money for the charity.

I enjoy talking to people about Marie Curie when I’m collecting, and quite a few people end up talking to me about their own bereavements. Sometimes by sharing the experience I had, it feels like I can help them feel that they’re not on their own. I get tremendous pleasure from that, and it motivates me to keep doing collections.

“My tribute”

I know I couldn’t be a nurse, like Sylvia was, but at least this way I can help pay for nurses to do what she did. When you lose a loved one as I did, you can’t bring them back, but you can help those lovely people who carry the good work on.

That is my way of saying thank you to my wife, and all the other nurses, and what motivates me to collect for Marie Curie. It’s my tribute to Sylvia.

By donating a few hours of your time to collect for Marie Curie this March, you can help support the nurses and volunteers who make Marie Curie care possible.