The Abbott family share their hospice experience for Light Up A Life 2021

November 19, 2021

Our Light Up A Life remembrance ceremony provides an opportunity for us to join together with the families of our patients and remember their loved ones. Each year a member of our hospice community shares their experience of their journey, supported by North London Hospice. 

Karen and Mark’s story 

Karen Abbott was a ‘do’er’.  An adored wife and sister and incredible mum to two beautiful children. It was the arrival of her children, Nancy and Louis, that led to her career change…from hairdresser to midwife.

“We were all so proud of her,” said Karen’s husband Mark. “After she had our children, Karen decided she wanted to train as a midwife. She loved her job at Barnet General Hospital…but she’d still do the hair of her private clients. She wasn’t doing it for herself though, she was doing it for us. That’s the person she was. Always doing things for other people. She was a real ‘do’er’ and had so many friends.”

In late 2017 Karen was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She was cared for by a medical team and by Mark and her mum Val and sister Maxine, until in 2018 they turned to North London Hospice for help.

“Nothing was working, and Karen continued to be very sick. There was no break for any of us and we had run out of ideas on how to help relieve her pain. That’s when we spoke to the hospice. There was room on the inpatient unit for her and that’s where she spent her last weeks.

“The hospice team were in constant contact with us, and everyone was so nice and kind. For much of the time Karen was in good spirits. It felt like a nice welcoming place to go, despite the difficult circumstances. Our daughter would sometimes go there straight from school by herself. It wasn’t inhibiting, like a hospital can sometimes feel. Karen was looked after very well, and we could all come and go as we wanted.”

After Karen passed away at the age of 51, the support from the hospice continued for the family. Even now, when I go for counselling with Patricia, I don’t think of it as a place of bad memories. We are very comfortable there. Any time I’ve felt down I give Patricia a call and she helps us see things we might have missed. Her support is invaluable.”

The Abbott family have become advocates of hospice care following their own experience and have raised almost £7,000 in Karen’s memory to support the work of North London Hospice by taking part in our annual Big Fun Walk. “If anyone is hesitant about contacting a hospice for support, I would say give it a go. Don’t think of it as being about the end of someone’s life. The people are so caring and it’s a much nicer place to be than a hospital.”

Patricia McCrossan, the Head of Patient & Family Support Services at North London Hospice added: “Many patients are reassured to know that we offer bereavement support and will remain in touch with their family and friends. We respect that everyone grieves in their own way, and we aim to support people in a way that is meaningful to them.”

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