The coronavirus crisis is causing a range of unique challenges for terminally ill people and their families, as well as those who have recently lost a loved one.  

Kate Sloan, 64, was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid and throat last August and she’s currently being cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast. Originally from Belfast, Kate has been living in Loughinisland, the home village of her husband Paddy for the past 35 years.  

 

Paddy, 68, says the family have such admiration for her, but the difficulties brought on by coronavirus have been the ‘toughest part’ of their hospice journey.  

 

He said, “Unfortunately, due to the current situation with COVID 19, our children and grandchildren are unable to visit following all the regulations to protect the vulnerable in our society. This has definitely been one of the hardest parts of the hospice journey as, of course, they just want to see their mummy and nanny however they know that what they are doing by distancing themselves is vital to the health of Kate and other patients.  

 

“The guidance around Covid-19 has made things quite a bit more difficult for our whole family, however just like they always do, our children put their mummy first. It’s difficult, and with present circumstances I know that not being able to hug their mum, or just sit at her bedside and hold her hand is hard on them but they are glad the facilities at the hospice have enabled me to stay with her and be here for her. Marie Curie have basically become an extension of our family and we appreciate the support and care that they have shown, not only to Kate, but to our whole family so much.” 

 

Kate’s son, Aidan, 31, says his heart breaks because he knows he can’t visit his mum this Easter, “My mum is the bravest, strongest and most courageous person I know. Our hearts break knowing that we can’t visit her due to the rules around COVID19, however as she taught me when I was growing up, it’s not about what you can’t do but about what you can - so although I can’t visit her, I can help support the amazing work of the people who are with her and caring for her so well.” 

 

Marie Curie know that people need information around death and dying at this time more than ever, and that’s why the Marie Curie support line (0800 090 2309) has extended its opening hours to be open seven days a week. 

 

Conor O’Kane, Senior Partnerships Manager, Marie Curie said, “We’re living in very challenging times and we want to make sure that people with a terminal illness and their families feel supported. We’re updating our information pages on a daily basis to ensure they are up to date with latest government guidance. We also have a huge range of information available, from visitation rules and funeral arrangements during the crisis to how to access financial and other forms of support. We know that this is an isolating time for shielded and vulnerable people and for those caring for them, so we also have a check-in and chat service running, where people can be befriended by one of our volunteers.” 

 

Marie Curie needs to raise £200,000 a week in Northern Ireland to continue to run its essential services, supporting families like the Sloan family, at a time when its ability to generate this money has been seriously compromised.  

The charity needs your help to be able to raise the donations needed to fund its vital work. 

  • Donate today, online at: mariecurie.org.uk/emergency 
  • Text NURSE to 70633 to help us reach the families who need us. Texts cost £5 plus 1 standard rate message. 98% is received by Marie Curie. To unsub text OUT to 78866. Thank you. 

If you’re missing your loved ones this Easter and looking for something fun to do, download a beautiful colouring in page by Ticketyboo, get creative and display it proudly on your window at home to support Marie Curie. Download it for free here: https://bit.ly/3aO2A5C 

If you, or someone you know, is affected by a terminal illness and concerned about Coronavirus, our Support Line team are ready to help with the information you need when you need it. Call free 0800 090 2309*. You can also find more information on our website: mariecurie.org.uk/coronavirus