Julia's story

Julia's daughter, Sadie, died of ovarian cancer aged 24 in March 2015. Sadie was cared for by St Christopher's Hospice in South-East London.

Julia France, with her daughter Sadie

“When we first heard about St Christopher's Sadie refused to go. She thought you’d go there to die and it would be full of old people, not young people like her. So St Christopher’s came to our home,” said Julia.

“We met Phillipa Sellar (Clinical Nurse Specialist and Young Adult’s Group Co-Ordinator) first. Sadie was always so bubbly and friendly but she wouldn’t even talk to her when she visited. Yet Phillipa very quickly gained Sadie’s trust. The very next day after her visit, she came up with practical solutions for every one of Sadie’s problems at that time and pre-empted problems too. She was absolutely amazing. 

“At one point we were told that Sadie had three weeks to live. Her boyfriend, Jason, who she had met at university, proposed.

“Sadie walked down the aisle thanking everyone for coming and by the time she got to the registrar Sadie said she couldn’t start yet as her face was hurting from smiling so much! Sadie said she never knew that level of happiness was possible.

“Phillipa, from St Christopher’s, was amazing and devoted the whole day to Sadie. She arrived early in the morning to remove all evidence of cancer treatment that she could from Sadie’s body. Just before Sadie entered the ceremony, Phillipa injected her to give her a boost and she enabled Sadie to walk down the aisle without her syringe driver and nasal tube.

"She also kept her topped up with pain relief, steroids and anti-sickness medicine all day and even offered to visit Sadie and Jason in the middle of their wedding night - just in case! 

“Sadie wanted to die at home and I knew that St Christopher’s would make it happen. One night Sadie could barely breathe so I called 111. The paramedics wanted to take her into hospital but we refused. If she was going to die, she would die at home. The hospice sent a doctor round who supported our decision and said no to the paramedics taking her in.

“St Christopher’s has such caring, knowledgeable people. Phillipa would even ring us on her days off! One occasion we were in Sutton Marsden where Phillipa was going to meet another young adult for the first time and so she popped in to see Sadie who said to her: ‘They won’t like you when they meet you but they will grow to love you in no time at all.

“People mustn’t be frightened of the hospice; it’s just a word that we’re conditioned to feel frightened of. Fortunately, it was there if we want it and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

“Phillipa still keeps in touch too. From the very start of treatment, to when Sadie passed, she was a complete rock for our whole family. We are eternally grateful to her and all at St Christopher’s whom looked after my whole family, so very well.”

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