The nurse came and just clicked with our mum ...
Daughter Fiona says ‘Marie Curie brought comfort, experience and laughter to our home’
AN ARGYLL woman has told her heartbreaking story of the loss of her mum and the care she received, so that people in a similar situation will know there is always someone to turn to.
Mum- of-two Fiona Bennett and her family struggled to cope with her mum’s condition when she became terminally ill, requiring 24-hour care.
Marie Curie Cancer Care became involved and, as Fiona explains, her mum Catherine Macleod’s passing was peaceful thanks to the nurses. Fiona, HR manager at The
Oban Times, explained: ‘At Christmas 2015, mum had a sore back which escalated to a huge pain.
‘She had an X-ray and the doctors found a very large tumour blocking the entrance to one of her lungs. It was inoperable. They discussed chemo but weighed up the quality of life against what might not be a long time.
‘Mum went into the Beatson being mobile but in pain. But when she came out she had lost the use of both her legs and was in a wheelchair. She wanted to get home but needed full physical care.
‘We cared for mum at her home – myself, my sister and my Auntie Norma. It was 24hour care. In May 2016, Auntie Norma said she thought Marie Curie could help us. At that time we were doing the nightshifts ourselves ... syringe, catheter ... we were exhausted.
‘Norma lives in Glasgow, my sister is in Edinburgh and I’m in Oban so we were all travelling to get to mum in Helensburgh.
‘When Norma got in touch, Marie Curie said they could cover two to three nights a week. We thought that was great. That increased to four nights a week. One of us was always there but it meant we could still sleep. We had a couple of nurses who were brilliant.
‘One evening Margaret-Ann came for the first time and she just clicked with mum. She very quickly fitted in and they formed a close, professional bond. She wasn’t a stranger in the house.
‘When mum was in the Beatson, she’d said it was a dream of hers to get to my house and spend time in the garden.
‘Mum came up to Oban and we were astounded Marie Curie could cover as much as they did.
‘Margaret-Ann wanted to come up to continue the care which meant mum didn’t have to go back to the beginning, building a relationship with another nurse. She was part of the family. She would come in and have a cup of tea, biscuits and we would chat. We felt safe in the knowledge she was here.
‘Mum spoke to her about things she wouldn’t speak to us about – things emotionally that it was too difficult for her to speak to us about. Margaret-Ann would listen to us too and guide us. She would guide mum on how to communicate with us.
‘The environment we were in was a home under such pressure. Marie Curie brought comfort, experience and laughter to us.
‘When mum died it could have been chaos. However, Margaret-Ann was there and it could not have gone better. She kept it calm and peaceful. We can look back and say that we have special memories, as awful as it was.
‘We went to bed at about 10pm. Margaret-Ann called us about quarter of an hour later and said we needed to come back.
‘Margaret-Ann held mum and put her in the right position and then helped us hold her. She physically put us in position. My arm was round mum. She then stood back and left us to it.
‘ We talked to mum and stroked her hair. She waited and watched. Everything seemed to reach a peak when mum died. Margaret-Ann was a close part of the team and made mum’s final moments as good as they could have been. After, when we were all ready, she prepared mum and called all the right people.
‘Margaret-Ann disappeared, like Nanny McPhee but better looking, when we didn’t need her anymore. She shared that night with us, then that was her gone.’
Gemma Smith at Marie Curie said: ‘ At Marie Curie, we want to reach more people who are living with a terminal illness and who need our hands- on care and support.
‘Readers should speak to their GP or district nurse to ask about receiving our services, which include the nursing service described so well by Fiona and a volunteer helper service.
‘Our services are free to families.’
Treasured memory: Fiona Bennett with her mum Catherine on Fiona’s wedding day in 2007.