Home News Family love stretches over an ocean as Jo fly's back to care for her sister Natalie

20 Jun 2024 Community

Family love stretches over an ocean as Jo fly’s back to care for her sister Natalie

The Kirkwood cares for people with life limiting illnesses and their families. Within our movement there is love and compassion and that love can span across oceans and continents. That is the case with one family who has recently had to access our In-Patient Unit services. 

Natalie Brodie, 54 had recently been admitted into the care of our amazing nurses. She had been battling against lung cancer. Natalie's sister Jo Padgett, 63 and niece Nicola, 43 have traveled all the way from Australia just to be by Natalie's side. That commitment to be here for a loved one when they are most in need of that support shows the close family bond the family has, even with oceans and continents between them. 

Whilst fighting back the tears Jo bravely commented on Natalie's care on the In-Patient Unit. She said: “Natalie's had lung cancer for three and a half years, which she's been battling valiantly.

“However the cancer had become untreatable at the end of April this year. She was given a few short weeks to live, so the decision was made to bring her here to get that care she needed. I always promised Natalie that the minute she called we'd be here. And she called us a few weeks ago. We booked our tickets straight away so that we could care for her because we're both nurses too.”

Both Jo and daughter Nicola are trained nurses. Jo herself earned her qualifications at Huddersfield HRI before deciding to emigrate to Australia 35 years ago. Jo remembered The Kirkwood site in Dalton being built and believes we are an important aspect of healthcare in the UK. 

She said: “What you do as a charity is just amazing. I remember the hospice had just been built 35 years back and was already starting to make a difference to people's lives back then. It's clearly grown and improved since then.”

Nicola added: “We do not have any independent units like this in Australia, they are all attached to hospitals and operate very differently. I am amazed by the level of care you provide to visitors and family, and I will be taking a lot of knowledge back to Australia with me”.

“I work at a big central hospital which has palliative care wards, but the welcoming and caring feeling that the Kirkwood has, is not felt there. 

“I think that is often, because death and dying is not a topic talked about very well in our culture. It tends to be just hidden away and people tend to grieve in private, whereas this is the very opposite. 

“It actually gives you the opportunity to come to terms with it and maybe then grieve less because it's actually brought out into the open. 

“I've been teaching student nurses for twelve years and the open concept of speaking about death is something that we should be teaching students. That's why I'm very privileged to come and look after my aunty.” 

Natalie wanted her final moments to be around family and the quality care that The Kirkwood nurses provide. She saw first hand herself the help and support we provided her husband after we cared for him 18 months ago. Since then Natalie and her other UK relatives have jumped out of a plane and done many more fundraising activities for us. 

Finally Jo wanted to thank all The Kirkwood staff for their incredible support. She said: “The overwhelming feeling of this place is just the welcome from the volunteers and staff. I've never experienced anything like this. The kindness of all the staff has just been amazing. 

“We can leave and we know that Natalie will be looked after. We could be here all day, but we can leave and get some sleep at night knowing that she'll be taken care of. So that's very comforting for us.

“Even though I'm here as a sister, I know that it's a privilege to look after her and to be here all day. It's not a chore, it's not what we have to do but it's what we both want to do. 

“Thanks to all the staff and volunteers for being amazing, you really do make a difference to people's lives at the toughest of moments.” 

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