The help that keeps Sabrina studying


SABRINA COSTELLO is 15 and studying for her GCSEs. When her mother, Josephine, teases her about her homework, she retorts that she hasn't managed too badly - she got good grades in her mock exams.

Sabrina, who lives with her mother in Chingford, wants to be a forensic scientist. Her academic progress is all the more impressive when you know that she is caring for her mother, who is seriously ill with cancer and needs help with washing, dressing and getting to the bathroom.

She is one of the thousands of cancer sufferers who receive help in their own homes from more than 5,000 Marie Curie Cancer Care nurses. Patients are put in touch with the service, which is provided free, by their district nurse or GP.

Mrs Costello says: "I have a Marie Curie nurse between 10pm and 7am three nights a week, which is an enormous help to me and Sabrina. It means that Sabrina can get a good night's sleep. When it's just the two of us here, I know that Sabrina is listening out for every move I make."

Sabrina agrees. "It's been much easier since the Marie Curie nurses have been coming. It was getting difficult because recently Mum has not been sleeping through the night. But when they come it gives me a break."

Mrs Costello, now 40, was only 33 when she discovered a lump in her breast. Cancer was diagnosed. Two years later she developed cancer in her other breast, and the disease spread to her brain and back. As a result she suffers from epileptic fits and weakness down her left side.

Marie Curie nurses, who also spend time with her during the day, help her to take her medication and see to her daily needs. They also make sure that her symptoms are under control and that her pain relief is adequate. "You know you are safe when they are there," she says. "And when you are feeling rough, there's someone there to reassure you."

Pat Unger, one of the Marie Curie nurses helping to care for Mrs Costello, says the ethos of the charity's nurses is to complement the work of the district nurses in promoting and maintaining a good quality of life for individual patients living at home with cancer. "To be effective, this must acknowledge the needs of family and other carers."

The role of the Marie Curie nurse will vary according to the patient's needs, Miss Unger says. "The one-to-one relationship that often builds up with patients allows time for them to talk freely and express feelings that are a burden to them - which can bring about a sense of peace."

She describes Mrs Costello as a cheerful and determined person whose main concern is the welfare of her daughter, and she adds: "Without support from Marie Curie Cancer Care, Mrs Costello would have to spend longer periods in hospital. And it's very important to her that Sabrina receives the help she needs in order to cope, particularly at this time when she is in the middle of studying for her exams."

Mrs Costello says Sabrina's perseverance with her studies is one of the things that helps to keep her going. She is keeping her fingers crossed that her daughter will - with the help of Marie Curie nurses - pass all nine GCSEs she plans to sit.

Suggested Topics
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice