‘A shining light in my life’
Carolyn Page's story about how talking to a counsellor helped get her life back on track after her partner, Christine died
Carolyn Page (Pagey) began writing to Christine Wilson in 1997. Pagey worked as a staff nurse at Hereford County Hospital, and Chris as a PA to the President of the Aramco Oil Corporation in Saudi Arabia.
During a holiday back home, Chris arranged to meet Pagey in the Peak District, half way between Chris’s home in Hull and Pagey’s home in Hereford. The five days together sparked a relationship which would last for over 20 happy years.
When Chris retired in 2008, the couple began their new life together in Hereford. Then in 2012, on a Wednesday before Christmas, Chris heard the news that rocked the couple’s life. Pagey remembers the moment vividly. ‘Chris returned from her GP appointment and told me she had cancer. It felt like a tornado had blown across our lives.’
Chris’s fitness and stamina helped her to recover from chemotherapy treatments, but after 18 months she was told her illness was terminal. Pagey said, ‘The news left us both devastated, but Chris was a strong East Yorkshire lass, and we carried on celebrating our relationship by planning our civil partnership. So, on a hot sunny day in July 2015, Chris and I took our vows at Hereford Town Hall before afternoon tea at Castle House.’
As Chris became more unwell, Pagey willingly took on the role of Chris’s nurse. As pain became more of an issue, the couple started to receive support from St Michael’s and the Wye Valley Trust Specialist Care Team. ‘Becky was one of the nurses who visited Chris at home, she was an enormous help. She suggested a stay at St Michael’s for pain control, and after some hesitation, Chris agreed. The Hospice nurses quickly got Chris’s symptoms under control, and she was able to return home for a short time.’
Unfortunately, Chris’s health began to deteriorate, and St Michael’s became the couple’s second home. For 11 weeks at St Michael’s, the Hospice team cared for Chris and gave Pagey the support to help her make the most of the time she had left to share with Chris. Pagey said, ‘The Hospice helped me in so many ways, they even provided a second bed in Chris’s room so I could stay close to her at night.
‘I am grateful for the care they gave Chris, and I’m also grateful for the support I received before and after Chris’s death. Without St Michael’s I don’t know how I would have survived some very dark days.
‘Tracey, one of the counsellors at St Michael’s, has been an enormous help. She has been someone I can talk to, and I never have to worry about being judged. She doesn’t tell me what to do, but she listens to what I have to say. I think I clicked with Tracey and she has helped me to make sense of all the things going on in my life.
‘Tracey has helped shine light into my life and when I took a few steps forward or a few steps back she was always there. And because everything I say is confidential, I can tell her things I couldn’t tell anyone else.
‘I don’t think I will ever get over losing Chris, but thanks to Tracey I have been able to get my life back on track. Chris and I talked about me selling our house and moving somewhere smaller with a garden. Tracey has helped me to make that decision and has helped me see it through.
‘I now have lots of things to look forward to in my life like visiting friends in Australia and even looking forward to spending Christmas in Spain.’