A CARER whose mum is living with a terminal illness, has spoken of what Christmas means to her and her family.

As part of the Penarth Times' support for Marie Curie's campaign to Pay for a Day of care at the hospice this Christmas, Sandra Clode, 50, of Sully, has described the care her mother receives at the hospice.

She has been caring for her mum at home for the past 10 months and before that Helen, 73, had been in hospital for eight and a half months.

She is living with a fractured and dislocated hip, an infection and tear in the bowel and a growing fistula, which cannot be repaired.

Helen’s condition is terminal, but she has not been given a prognosis. Sandra says she now has to be her “mum’s legs”, as she is not mobile.

Speaking ahead of the holiday, Sandra said last Christmas had been difficult, as mum was in hospital over the festive period.

“Christmas has always been really important to us as a family," she said.

"Mum and I both love Christmas and we’ve spent a couple of Christmases over in Australia with my brother – he also loves Christmas, and it’s about being around the children as well,” she said.

“Last year was really strange because she was in hospital for Christmas. It was okay, but it was not Christmas as I remember it.

"Mum always used to do the cooking, but the year before last was the first time ever I cooked the Christmas dinner.

"Mum always used to do it, but it was a family thing – we would get all the stuff and prepare it all and then mum would do the cooking and I would help.

"When dad was alive he used to always wash all the dishes and everything, but that year for the first year ever I did the whole thing – with mum’s guidance, supervising from the chair."

Sandra attends the Carers’ Cafe at the Marie Curie Cardiff and the Vale hospice twice a month for support. Helen also receives support from a Helper volunteer.

Speaking about how Marie Curie will support them over the season, Sandra added: “I think knowing that they are there if mum is not feeling well - we don’t know what’s around the corner, hopefully she will still be ok then, because she’s defied all the medical predictions so far.

"She has sheer determination, she says 'You’re not getting rid of me that easily'”.

"Christmas will be the next big thing for her.

"I think Marie Curie will certainly be at the forefront for us. It’s such a busy and hectic time for everybody, knowing that if I get stressed that there’s somebody there.”

Sandra is also a regular caller to the Information and Support Line, which will be open throughout the festive season to provide support and a listening ear to people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

Ahead of Christmas, Sandra attended the Christmas Carers’ Cafe, at a time when she was in need of support.

She said: “It’s important that even though everyone is busy preparing for Christmas, that carers don’t get forgotten.

"Coming to this carers’ cafe gives me the support I need, especially at this time of year.”

If you can support the Pay for a Day campaign, donate via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/penarthtimespayforxmasday or call the fundraising team on 02920 426068.