Theresa is 58 and lives in Coulsdon with her husband, Peter, son Andrew and her Dalmatian, Sasha.
“I’m from Devon originally but lived in Streatham for 20 years. We then moved out to Coulsdon two and a half years ago to have a bit of countryside. When we moved I continued to commute to St Andrew’s, the primary school I was a Teaching Assistant at for over 20 years. I’d leave the house at 7am and not get back until 8pm if I was helping at after school club, which I did three times a week. When we moved out people said I should get a job closer to home but I didn’t want to- it’s a lovely school and I have a lot of friends there.
I have four children; Keith, Scott, Andrew and Emily. My son Scott married in June this year. It was a beautiful day. The weather had been terrible all week but it turned out to be lovely on the day itself. I was so pleased to have been able to enjoy the whole day.
I was initially diagnosed in 2009 with bowel cancer but it then spread to my ovaries and now liver and lungs. I was really well for a couple of years, and had chemotherapy and operations. I was able to go back to work and went to America in 2011 to visit my son when he lived there.
Now that my cancer is terminal I’m not having treatment anymore – I’m just having palliative care from the hospice. I have been under St Christopher’s care for around a year. I have clinical nurse specialists, Agnes and Eva, come to my home to see me and they call me quite often. When they first started coming it was to help with pain management and to generally make sure I was ok and didn’t need anything else.
It’s good to know they’re always at the other end of the phone, 24 hours a day, as I do get frightened and panic, and can get really distressed. Last time it happened, my husband, Peter, spoke to a doctor at St Christopher’s on the phone. He advised us, and said that if I needed, a district nurse would come out to see me. The care has been excellent, not too intrusive but very helpful and I know that if I need someone they’re there. If not Agnes and Eva then I can always talk to someone else.
When you first hear the word hospice you do get a bit panicky but they reassure you and they’re not just there for end of life care – they’re there all the time. I was a bit worried as I hadn’t been to the hospice before but I went there a couple of weeks ago. I feel better now that I’ve seen it and spoken to people there. It’s not so daunting. I have lots and lots of family and friends who come to see me and take me out so I’m not just at home twiddling my thumbs, but I know that St Christopher’s is there if I need it and I’m fortunate that I can access it if I want to.
Kostas, a social worker at St Christopher’s, came to my home to introduce himself and said that if I need him, he can come back. He told me that he’s there for me and for the whole family and I know that a couple of my boys have been in contact. People should take advantage of St Christopher’s care– they reassure you and calm you down.”