Marie Curie Hampstead hospice patient: 'Service is a miracle'
PUBLISHED: 10:14 17 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:14 17 June 2016
Carolyn Paris had been planning a change in career when she was told she had terminal cancer.
The lawyer had recently completed a PhD, and hoped to make a move into academia.
Her diagnosis with kidney cancer was devastating for Carolyn and her family, and she is now receiving ongoing care from the Day Therapy Unit at Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead.
The Day Therapy Unit provides palliative care, counselling, complementary therapies and physiotherapy, among other services, to patients with terminal illnesses.
The 63-year-old, of Arkwright Road in Hampstead, told the Ham&High that the charity has been crucial as she faces up to her condition.
She said: “I think it’s a miracle.
“In addition to having help now, I have the security of knowing that when the end stage comes – and that could be six months from now, it could be several years, there’s no way of knowing – they’re there for me.
“It’s going to be frightening, no matter how strong you feel in advance, I expect everything to crumble in the end.
“But having someone to take care of end of life, I can’t tell you what psychological comfort that is.
“I think the community is so incredibly lucky to have this service.”
As well as responding to her health concerns, hospice staff have been able to help with day-to-day issues, such as travel advice so she could see her mother in the United States.
Mother-of-three Carolyn, who was born in Illinois but has lived in London for the past 14 years, said: “They take every aspect of how a patient is feeling as a legitimate medical issue.
“It’s an essential aspect of health for people with terminal illnesses.
“You can easily reach a conclusion that it’s not worth it to keep going, whereas if you have some feeling that you enjoy life, you’re motivated to carry on.”
She was diagnosed in October 2013, and the following year was referred to palliative care at the Royal Free Hospital, as the disease had spread to her bones.
It was there she met Liz Thomas, who has since left the NHS to become the hospice’s clinical lead nurse.
“She’s a miraculous person, I call her my angel, she kept me going,” Carolyn said.
“Some people hear the words ‘palliative’ and ‘hospice’ and they’re fearful.
“They feel palliative care means the medical professionals are giving up, but that’s not what it’s all about.
“It’s about addressing the patient’s pain and discomfort.”
As well as giving vital support to Carolyn, the hospice has also helped her husband Jonathan, 63.
Carolyn said: “The impact of a cancer diagnosis on the patient and the family is enormous.
“My husband wanted to speak to someone, and the only person he could speak to was me.
“But he had a lot of questions, and I wasn’t the person to deal with them.”
Carolyn said it is vitally important for the community to support the hospice.
“We send them money every year, but it’s a small amount compared to the benefits we get,” she stated.
“It’s so important for the local community to appreciate the jewel that they have.
“Not everyone has something up to this standard, and you never know when you or your family may have reason to need it.”