This is a blog written by Denise, who has been cared for by Martlets since 2004, receiving treatment in the comfort of her own home. 

Christmas is a very difficult time for anyone facing an uncertain future. You think to yourself, ‘Will this be the last one, will I ever see those Christmas decorations again?'

I was so totally in denial and couldn’t accept that I had this disease, it felt like I was a member of a club that I didn’t want to be a member of.  I didn’t want to visit the hospice and I found the thought of group support abhorrent.

My life as it is today, alongside really good clinical treatment, is thanks to the emotional support and care I received from Martlets.  They helped me to rebuild my life, when I felt that I had no future to look forward to. It wasn’t just me they helped, but they also supported the rest of the family when things were really tough for us.  They built relationships with all of us and pulled me back from the darkest place that I’ve ever been.  It was like a huge warm hug, wrapping itself around me and lifting me up when things looked very bleak. 

In the worst, darkest period, I was in pain and finding it hard to cope with my feelings of hopelessness.  I couldn't face Christmas at all. How could I look forward, when I felt I had nothing to look forward to?  How could I accept cards, wishing me a Happy New Year? I didn't even want to put the Christmas tree up and every card went straight in the bin.   However, the Martlets nurses helped me to find a way to deal with my feelings of hopelessness and to be sensitive to the impact my feelings and emotions were having on the rest of the family.  They showed me how to be strong, whilst not hiding my feelings, and how to take one day at a time.

In the end the tree went up, just the tree, and we got through that time as best as we could. 

When Christmas was over my husband suggested I go with him to recycle the Christmas tree.  I had been struggling with going outside the house, but the re-cycling centre was in our local park and the views across the downs were lovely.  I think he thought that it might lighten my mood a bit. 

Once in the park, I noticed something purple sticking very slightly out of the mud.  It was a broken, wooden Christmas decoration; an angel.  She had obviously fallen off someone’s tree and got trodden into the mud and was filthy dirty, battered and bruised.  She felt important to me, so we brought her home, cleaned her up and she has stayed with me ever since. She summed up exactly how I felt at that time; a broken angel who had been crushed underfoot. Her left wing was missing, which is my mastectomy side, so it seemed to me that we had so much in common.

I felt that what I was doing for that little purple angel, Martlets had done for me. She now comes out every year and has pride of place on the tree.  She is a reminder of what a little bit of care can do for someone. I owe my life to Martlets and I will never forget that.

This year I will be spending Christmas with my family; my gorgeous Grand-daughter is the icing on the cake for me.  I never thought I would see my kids grow up and I certainly didn’t think I’d live long enough to see Grand-kids.

Everyone knows of someone who has had their lives touched by cancer or a life-threatening illness.  £20 is such a small gift to give, but it will help people like me to live with and cope with illness.  It’s not much to allow someone the chance to feel safe and to finally start to look forward again.