"We are here to reassure"

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Nurse Donna Lee on how the Marie Curie Support Line gives support and information when people need it most.

Every time Donna Lee picks up the phone for the Marie Curie Information and Support Line her first instinct is to try to change the worry or concern she hears at the end of the phone line into reassurance, understanding and calm. Having worked in palliative care for eight years and as a Marie Curie Nurse for three, she’s an expert in how to best support families at the hardest of time in their own homes, but also from miles away at the end of the phone on the support line.

There for anyone with a terminal diagnosis and their family and friends, people can call to find help for any concerns they have or when they just want to talk. From understanding a diagnosis to explaining treatments or talking through symptoms, the support line can provide lots of information and support, both from specially-trained support line officers and now from Marie Curie Nurses like Donna, too.

This means anyone in the UK can call a Marie Curie Nurse regardless of their diagnosis or where they live, so more people living with a terminal illness and their carers, family and friends can get the confidence and control from speaking to a specially-trained nurse at a time when they might feel bombarded by different information or not know where to turn.

“What I hear regularly is that people go to a doctor’s appointment and get so much information but it’s only once they’re home and have had time to digest it that they come up with questions and then don’t know who to ask. That’s where we come in,” says Donna, 43, who split her working week between taking calls and nursing.

“Whether a family is receiving care from a Marie Curie Nurse or not, they can still call us and receive ongoing information and support, no matter what care and services someone is receiving locally.”

Calls cover things like how to manage symptoms pain relief, end-of-life care, where to get more help and what to expect when someone is approaching the end of life. The service also offers emotional and practical support as well as being a source of great support and trusted, expert information from those who work in palliative care day in day out.

One of the most memorable calls Donna remembers was a lady who wanted to chat about what the end of life might look like for her as she felt somewhat scared and confused by the things she’d seen and read about it elsewhere. But by chatting it through with Donna she was able to put into words how she felt she could go forward with her life. Donna says: “That was very overwhelming to think I’d made a difference to her. It’s a privilege to work on the support line and I just hope I can continue to being comfort and reassurance to more people.”

Just a phone call away from help and support

  • You can call the Marie Curie support line on 0800 090 2309 between 8am-6pm Monday to Friday ad 11am-5pm on Saturday. You can also go online for useful information about terminal illness and expert nursing care at www.mariecurie.org.uk/help.