Together, through thick and thin
As you read this, it will be around a year since the beginning of the first UK lockdown – and what a year it’s been. The way we work with people and their families has had to change a lot in that time. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication of Marie Curie Nurses to give people the best possible care they can, whatever the circumstances.
Something else that’s stayed the same is the incredible support we continue to receive. By playing the Marie Curie Weekly Lottery, you’ve made the work of Marie Curie Nurses possible – AND got in with a chance of winning big! Now that’s something to smile about.
We hope you love reading this issue of the Weekly Lottery Latest and seeing your support in action. From Joseph, our pirouetting Healthcare Assistant, to young Zaynah, who found solace in poetry after she lost her dad – you’re about to meet some incredible people. And as far as we’re
concerned, you’re pretty incredible too.
Thank you for playing – and good luck!
Fundraiser Hazel Nothing Stops Fundraiser Hazel
Hazel Mitchell has been raising money for the Great Daffodil Appeal ever since Marie Curie Nurses supported her and her husband, Steven, in 2008. In 2020, Hazel found a way to keep fundraising, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was referred to Marie Curie when Steven was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumour. As his illness went on I became exhausted caring for him. But I didn’t want him to go into a hospice – I wasn’t ready for that – so the Marie Curie Nurses came to us.”
“Like most people, I didn’t know much about Marie Curie Nurses until I needed them. They came throughout the night so I could sleep. I remember one morning, our nurse was finishing her shift when Steven asked me to help him to the commode. She stayed and helped me. I knew she had to get her children to school, but she still stayed. Those moments mean the world.”
“I know that the amazing care that Steven got wouldn’t have been possible without people who support Marie Curie, like the Weekly Lottery players. That’s why, after Steven died, I began collecting for the Great Daffodil Appeal myself. And I’ve done it every year since.”
“A few folk often have a story to tell you. Some get emotional when they see you because they’ve recently had support from Marie Curie Nurses.”
“Because of the lockdown, the Great Daffodil Appeal last year was different – I did a virtual collection instead. I raised £1,040 – more than I would normally! I’ll be doing my virtual collection again this year. But I look forward to when we can do the physical collections again. I’ll be out there, with my hat and my bucket.”
Like the Weekly Lottery, virtual collections raise vital funds to care for people like Hazel’s husband. If you’d like to give to a collection, or start your own, visit mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil/virtual-collections
Healthcare Assistant Joseph From Belgrade to the bedside
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Joseph Tidswell left the Serbian National Ballet in Belgrade to work for Marie Curie back home in London. He describes why he left the stage behind to care for people in their final days, with your support.
“I loved every minute of being a professional dancer”, says Joseph. “But I also knew it wasn’t going to keep me going for the rest of my life, so I was already considering my options.”
Yet when coronavirus hit and lockdowns closed theatres and venues across Europe, his career change happened a little quicker than planned. As a son of healthcare workers, Joseph’s natural path was a career in medicine. And so, when he spotted a job vacancy for a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) for Marie Curie, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I applied for the job at Marie Curie in April at the height of lockdown”, says Joseph. “Having had some family experience of Marie Curie Nurses’ support, we knew how outstanding the care they provide is.”
“At the end of my first week at Marie Curie, I thought this is exactly what I want to be doing.”
Despite having performed before crowds of thousands, Joseph found his first week as an HCA intense. He explains, “I shadowed staff and got to know everyone, it was frantic. But by the Friday, I thought this is exactly what I want to be doing. I came home feeling really proud.”
“Being an HCA and being a ballet dancer are both challenging, but in very different ways. If the worst happens on stage, it’s embarrassing. As an HCA though, you can’t slip up. There are real human consequences.”
“I love talking to people and hearing about their lives. I cared for a wonderful lady when I first started at the hospice. She’d been a prestigious ballet teacher. She’d taught people I’d been trained by. It was really nice to have that connection with her. When I was helping her to walk, we had a joke that it was like a pas de deux on to the stage!”
“What’s so wonderful about my Marie Curie colleagues is that we come in every day at 7.30am and the people we care for are our primary focus. We put 100% effort into everything.”
“I’m so grateful that Marie Curie Weekly Lottery players are out there helping fund roles like mine, so others can get the care they need. To each and every player reading this, I’d like to say, take a bow!”
Zaynah's Story An ode to my dad
When Zaynah Sheikh lost her dad as a child, she found comfort in those around her – and made space for her feelings in poetry.
Losing a parent is hard no matter your age. But for children especially, it can be a very confusing and traumatic time. Zaynah was just 10 when her dad died. In the decade since, she’s learnt a lot about how children cope with grief – and how their loved ones can help them.
“I remember when my dad first went into the Marie Curie Hospice”, says Zaynah. “I was scared. I didn’t want him to go. But when I saw all the support he had there, it made me feel more comfortable. At the hospice Dad gave me a necklace with my name and my birthday on it. It said, ‘Zaynah, I love you’. That’s when I realised he wasn’t going to be coming home.” After Zaynah’s dad died, Marie Curie continued to support Zaynah and her family.
“I learnt it was okay to cry and not have my grief bubble up inside of me.”
“Knowing I wasn’t alone really helped me get through it. I had my mum and support from the people at the hospice too, that helped a lot. I had bereavement sessions at the hospice and learnt it was okay to cry and not have my grief bubble up inside of me.”
And for all those bubbling emotions, Zaynah found another outlet. “At school, we had a poetry competition. I wrote my poem as a way to get my feelings onto paper. It wasn’t necessarily about Dad, more in memory of him.” That’s when Zaynah realised then that she’d not only discovered a talent for poetry – but an invaluable outlet for her feelings. Her poems even ended up being published in a book.
“I was apprehensive talking about Dad to friends”, she says. “You don’t want to put a downer on things. People don’t always know what to say, the mood changes”.
“A while after Dad’s death, I was asked to write a poem about someone special I loved. Reflecting back on Dad’s death, I saw how far I’d come. Writing about my feelings, made them easier to talk about. In a way it made me more confident. I know I can go through anything, and I’ll still be able to cope.”
Based on her experience, Zaynah has some advice for families caring for a child who’s lost a loved one. “Be there for them,” she says. “Don’t treat them like they’ll crumble if you bring up grief and bereavement. If children want to talk about it, just listen. If they don’t, just let them know you’ll be there for them when they’re ready. And if you can help them find an outlet, just like I found mine in poetry, things will get better.”
By playing the Marie Curie Weekly Lottery, you help support children when they lose a parent or loved one. You help them find ways to cope with their feelings and find some comfort.
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