Carers’ group threw me a vital lifeline

A WOMAN has praised a carers’ group for giving her crucial support as her husband battled lung cancer.

Doreen Johnson, from Leigh, shared her experiences of attending the group, called Time Out, as part of Hospice Care Week.

Doreen was married to Brian for 54 years and lived in Southend with their two daughters, Stephanie and Tracey.

In 2010, Brian was diagnosed with lung cancer, and received respite care from Fair Havens Hospice at Home and Macmillan nurses.

As Brian fought the condition, Doreen joined the Time Out group, which provides carers with information and advice, practical tips and guidance from professional services and one-to-one counselling.

Carers also have access to complementary therapies, such as reflexology and massage.

Doreen said: “On my first day the carers co-ordinator, Jill, put me at ease straight away. She is someone I felt I could talk to and her experience would guide me through whatever came our way, and she taught me how to deal with everything serious illness throws at you.

“Having someone you love diagnosed with cancer is daunting. The forms, phone calls and decisions you have to make are endless and confusing.

I told Jill and she said, ‘Let me take some on board,’ and that took so much stress off my shoulders.

“She would often speak to the hospital and help organise things to do with Brian’s medication and care. I was so grateful for that.”

Time Out also gave Doreen a place to share her feelings and talk about her concerns.

She said: “It’s easy to feel as though you’re the only one dealing with what you’re going through, but at the group, I found out a lot of my feelings were so common.

“I felt so desperate and lost before going to the group, and in that respect, the Carers Group saved me. Caring for carers is important because without the carer, there would be no one to support that seriously ill person. I learnt you have to look after yourself to be able to look after other people.”

Brian’s condition began to deteriorate in January this year, and he died on April 4, at the age of 78.

Jill Simmonds, carer group co-ordinator, said: “Caring for a loved one can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Fair Havens Carers Group provides somewhere for carers to come and take some time for themselves, while receiving support and advice. Whether you need help and advice with medical forms, or just want to come for a cup of tea and a chat, we’re here.”

For more information, call Jill on 01702 221652 or e-mail


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