News and stories News Light Up a Life 2018 - Julie's story Losing a loved one is one of the worst things a family can experience. We provide support to families when their loved ones are ill (pre-bereavement counselling) and after they pass away (post-bereavement counselling). One person to use this service was Julie Purbrick from Llanishen, Cardiff. Just before Christmas 2016, her Mam was diagnosed with cancer. “At first, they thought it was stomach cancer but after all the tests, they confirmed it was lung cancer. We then needed support from palliative care doctors and nurses. Mam also had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but even throughout the diagnoses, she smiled all the time like nothing was wrong. She was such a proud woman and would never talk about what was happening to her.” Julie says her Mam was a real inspiration. “She’d had a stroke when she was 36 years old and was paralysed on the one side. Mam couldn’t walk properly; she walked with a limp but never ever stopped smiling. I’m one of five children and we’ve lost two brothers over the years. You don’t get over it but you do get stronger as a family unit. We’re a very close family.” In the week that her health took a turn for the worst, Julie’s Mam was surrounded by her supportive family. “Myself, Mam’s two sisters, my sister, Mam’s two granddaughters and great grandson stayed at Llys Enfys Sheltered Accommodation where my parents lived and we were given a bedroom to stay in by staff. We shared shifts to make sure she was OK and that she was comfortable. It was a proper family moment. When Mam died, two of her granddaughters and her sister washed and dressed her. My sister tonged her hair. They made sure she was looking lovely when she finally left her flat.” On 30th April 2017, after continuing to put on a brave face, Julie’s Mam sadly died. Julie felt like she wanted to do something in honour of her Mam but also to say thank you to the charity for the help they gave. She arranged a coffee morning, at ‘Learning Support’ in Llanishen High School,where she works, and then got herself into running. “My friends are all into fitness and they wanted to help give back to City Hospice so we arranged to do the Edinburgh 10k. I hadn’t actually realised how far 10k was! I was not a person who would ever do exercise and was the couch potato of our friendship group”. So with the help of her friends, Vicki & Lauren, Julie started the Couch to 5k programme and completed her first 5k run on Mother’s Day which was really emotional. The group of friends then felt inspired to enter the Cardiff Half Marathon to continue the challenge in memory of Julie’s Mam. They really enjoyed the training and spurred each other on when things got tough. “We laughed and had so much fun training. I would never be where I am if it wasn’t for the girls I ran with. They kept me motivated, as did running up to the crematorium to see my Mam.” To date, Julie and her friend Vicki have raised £3,400 for Cardiff’s local hospice. “City Hospice helped Mam from when she was diagnosed right up until the end. I’ve benefited as well because I’ve had counselling and reflexology. My Dad also had counselling which was why I felt I needed to give something back to the charity. Ellie, the nurse, always used to call my Mam ‘The Smiler’ because she didn’t stop smiling. Mam loved it when Ellie came to see her. The amazing thing was, Ellie and all the nurses would be at the end of the phone if there was something wrong and they could always offer the advice we needed. They would talk to the district nurses on our behalf and sort out care from that side. When Mam became really, really poorly, she lost all movement, couldn’t eat and couldn’t use her legs or arms. The City Hospice nurses really helped her and us as a family.” If you’ve lost a loved one, the charity encourages you to get involved in its Light Up a Life appeal. Write a dedication, make a donation and remember your loved one this Christmas. Find out more by visiting www.cityhospice.org.uk/Appeal/light-up-a-life-2018 or by calling 02920 524150 and speak to a member of our Fundraising Team.