THROUGHOUT November, Marie Curie is encouraging people to hold retro themed dinner parties as part of its Dinner Down Memory Lane Campaign.
Marie Curie provides care and support to people living with a terminal illness in Edinburgh and the Lothians at its Fairmilehead hospice and through its community services.
Last year the charity cared for 480 people as inpatients at the hospice and 95 per cent of patients were able to die in their place of choice. It also carried out more than 2,200 clinical nurse specialist visits to patients in Edinburgh and more than 1,000 in West Lothian.
Jackie Currie from Gorebridge hosted a 1970s themed fancy dress night at her miners’ club on Saturday to support Marie Curie’s campaign.
Like so many people, Jackie has witnessed the pain and sadness cancer can cause and was able to rely on Marie Curie’s services when she and one of her closest friends, Janis Aprile, needed it most.
“For me personally, I lost one of my closest friends in May, Janis. I was her carer,” explains Jackie, a retired nurse.
“It started ten years ago with breast cancer and then she recovered. She had chemo. Then, when she was 50, three years ago, they discovered it in her lung and she had a bit of her lung removed. Last year in August time they discovered the cancer had spread.”
Even when Janis was told the cancer was terminal, she stayed positive. She and Jackie would turn visits to the Marie Curie hospice into enjoyable days out by combining them with trips to the neighbouring garden centre.
The pair also benefited from aromatherapy and massage sessions which the charity offers to patients and their carers.
“I have never met a braver person,” says Jackie. “She was really hugely positive and latterly, at the end, when she was told it was terminal, she used to always say that she wasn’t afraid to die.
“She got baptised on Easter Sunday this year. That was one of the big things she wanted to do.”
When Janis was diagnosed as terminal, Jackie was able to help out with household chores, visiting her old schoolfriend daily.
“At first it was her housework and ironing I did and then it went to personal care when she couldn’t manage herself,” says Jackie.
“She had her own Marie Curie nurse. They were fantastic. Janis’s pain was hard to control and it was the Marie Curie nurse who gave her the tablets and got all that sorted.
“She was at home up until the Saturday and she died on the Monday morning. She was taken to the Western General Hospital but died before the ambulance took her to Marie Curie. Her dying wish was to die in the Marie Curie hospice.”
The 1970s themed party was not the first fundraising event Jackie and her friends have been involved with.
This summer, the group took part in the Memory Walk in Dalkeith to remember Janis, raising £1,531 for Marie Curie.
While fancy dress was not compulsory, Jackie donned an iconic Abba outfit for her retro event at the weekend.
Photographs of Janis from the 1970s were on display on the night and guests enjoyed themed food including party nibbles on cocktail sticks and quich Lorraine.
Hits from Janis’s favourite artists, David Bowie and T-Rex, got everyone dancing. Around 70 people turned up to show their support, raising £400 for Marie Curie.
Jackie is keen to encourage others to support Dinner Down Memory Lane.
“Every penny helps doesn’t it,” she says. “It helps so many people suffering from cancer. I don’t think anybody’s not been affected by knowing somebody who had or has got cancer.”