Marva is 64 and has lived in Croydon for over 50 years. She lives with her daughter, Donna, and three grandchildren Omar, Celeste and Kaine.
“Before I got married I was teaching infants but when I had children I decided I’d teach my own instead! Over the years I’ve also worked as an administrator, ran my own cleaning business – I’ve had a whole range of jobs!
I had three children – one of them died two years ago, just four months after her father. My daughter and her three children live with me. She does all the shopping and banking; she’s caring for me as I did for my mother who had dementia. I loved caring for the people I loved and I did it to my fullest.
My husband of 42 years, Danny, died two years ago and had been receiving St Christopher’s homecare. I myself have received homecare from St Christopher’s care for just over a year. They come to my home every morning at 6.30am to help me to shower, give me coffee and something to eat. My daughter has three kids to get ready for school so her not having to worry about me too is great. In the evening the St Christopher’s carers come and give me fluids and empty the commode. Sam, who comes in the evening is great and gets on well with my daughter. They’ve done me well; they’re a really nice bunch of people. They train them well; you can tell they receive good training. But they still haven’t sent me someone tall, dark and handsome! I have asked!
I cared for my husband and no one suspected I was ill; I certainly didn’t. I had breast cancer and didn’t know it. They didn’t find a lump. They took a biopsy and it had gone but has travelled to my spine and left hip. I have no left hip – it’s deteriorated. But, the cancer hasn’t affected my brain or my mouth! Though my daughter might have something to say about that!
The word hospice didn’t worry me; I can’t change anything. Having had a child die that had severe learning difficulties, you learn that in life you get what you get. You get taught as children about fairy tales and you think you’ll lead a charmed life. You have to go with the flow – you can’t buck against it. I just didn’t like the fact that I have to be in a wheelchair, I like my independence.
My husband used to go into St Christopher’s Anniversary Centre on Wednesdays which was perfect. It was my day of rest, my day of peace when I could do what I liked. I do love the gardens at the hospice but for me, I want to be with people that aren’t ill. Every four weeks I have to go to hospital for check-ups and treatment and I also have scans and consultancies – that’s bad enough. That’s not normal living. I have great friends and they’ve all shown that they love me and I’m not in need of support outside of this. St Christopher’s was able to help my husband and continue to help me in different ways.
Carers from Christopher’s are a good bunch of people and I really notice their professionalism. With them it’s always ‘Mrs Murray, what would you like? What would you like us to do? Is there anything more we can do?’ and never ‘Oh you want me to do that do you?’ I’ve never had to tell St Christopher’s carers what to do – it’s just done.”