Jenny and Adrienne
As we grow our Marie Curie Helper volunteer service we're offering practical help and companionship to more people like Jenny, who is supported by Helper volunteer Adrienne.
"She's so nice and open" says Adrienne Titley, talking about Jenny Lathan who has breast cancer. Adrienne is a Helper volunteer who offers invaluable companionship and emotional support during weekly visits to Jenny. "She's talkative and sociable. We have a good time together and the time just flies."
In 2012, Jenny had been suffering from severe breathing problems and was admitted to hospital where doctors diagnosed her with advanced breast cancer. The cancer had spread into her lungs, chest, bone and spine. Doctors told her they wouldn't be able to cure her, but would provide palliative care to treat or manage her pain and other physical symptoms.
Helping to prevent loneliness
Jenny spent a few weeks in hospital and later moved to the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and the Vale. Jenny hasn't been well enough to be cared for in her own home and, most recently, she has been living in a care home in Cardiff.
Jenny describes the care home as being 'lovely' and she has made a few friends, but the fact that she is by far the youngest resident and many of other patients have dementia, makes it hard to have proper conversations.
One of her sisters, who lives in London, had heard about the Marie Curie Helper service and got in touch. She requested for Jenny to be paired with a volunteer of a similar age, in the hope that it would prevent her from feeling lonely.
A new approach to life
Marie Curie matched Jenny with Adrienne who has helped Jenny to take back control and inject a sense of normality into her life.
Adrienne says that the benefits of her volunteering are plain to see. "A lot of the others [patients] at Jenny's home are older than her and I think she wants to just escape sometimes. She's not very mobile so I think she's probably quite bored. She wants to go the park, go to the shops. I took her to some charity shops and we were there for hours looking for a bargain."positive outlook on her situation. "The first few months after my diagnosis I did an awful lot of sleeping," said Jenny. "My mind shut down. Now I want to get on with things and try to do what I can."
Since being matched together, the pair have enjoyed shopping days, trips to the bingo and also have plans to go to their local park, or even down to the pub. Jenny says she would also like to visit a few museums if she's having a good day. "I enjoy that my days are now more varied," Jenny says. "Being with Adrienne is helping to avoid getting stuck in a rut by just spending all my time at the care home."