From the day the consultant gave us the devastating news regarding Betty's condition, Macmillan were there to help us through the following three traumatic years.
Betty and I attended various Macmillan ‘get togethers’ where we met other people suffering from cancer and shared experiences with them, thus dispelling the thought that you are fighting this battle on your own.
Karen, the Macmillan representative, helped organise financial support by means of a disability living allowance. We also received suggestions and guidance on diet, medication and how to cope with the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The most important thing for us however was the home visits by Macmillan nurse Tony.
Tony called on a regular basis and spent hours talking and comforting Betty, myself and our two daughters Carole and Lynne. He proved to be our first ‘port of call’ during any crisis or in need of advice. Tony and his team gave us the self belief to fulfil Betty's wish to remain at home, giving us constant advice, guidance and support whilst preparing us for what was inevitable. Tony provided sound recommendations on how to explain to the three grandchildren Stuart, Scot and Molly what was happening to their Gran, clearly different questions and relative responses were required when dealing with a two year old to teenagers.
The Macmillan carers visited daily offering intimate care in a low key, unobtrusive and professional manner. Without this team approach, Betty would not have been able to remain at home and we would not have been satisfied that she was as comfortable as possible.
Towards the end Betty was in a lot of pain, so we mentioned it to Tony. And he altered the medication, or upped the morphine, to make sure that she wasn't in pain. He just handled the whole thing absolutely marvellously.
I don’t think Betty would have coped very well without Tony. It’s alright having your family there, but having someone from outside who has a wealth of experience in dealing with these situations, and who can look at things from a different angle, is really helpful.
As far as I’m concerned Tony was unique to our family, without any shadow of a doubt. Without Macmillan it would have been one hell of a bad journey.
I think it takes a special kind of person to do what the Macmillan crowd do.