Growing up, I dreamt of becoming a doctor and helping people in the community. But after my A-Levels, my father had a stroke so I had to stop studying and care for him and for my mother, who was also unwell.  

After I got married and my family grew, I went on a career break. It was during this time that my father-in-law passed away and it was decided that my mother in law was not to live on her own but to join us in our home as she needed care and support. During this time, I became a full-time carer for my mother-in-law as well as helping to care and support my father and mother who lived close by. 

Slowly as the years passed by, I found my identity ebb away as I took on the full-time role of becoming an unpaid carer, a mother and a wife. 

I cared for my mother-in-law until she passed away due to breast cancer in 2018.She was the first person I’ve seen to pass away.  The night before she died I spent the whole night in hospital trying to calm her. She went into a coma and we were with her when she died.  I walked with her to the cold room, because when she was alive, she was always anxious without me; and I helped wash her body. 

After my mother-in-law’s death, I found myself working at Carers Leeds.  As my father had vascular dementia as well as other health conditions, supporting unpaid carers who care for people with dementia came very naturally to me. My lived experiences have helped me as a support worker and I use my own experience as a carer to understand what an unpaid carer may be going through. I am a good listener, and I get a kick out of helping somebody – even if it only eases the pressure on them for 5 minutes. 

My father passed away recently and I was next to him with the family as he took his last breath. I am thankful that I was able to support and spend time with him when he needed my support.  I am now caring for my mother who needs my support more now since becoming bereaved after the death of my father. Carers Leeds has always been supportive and having a right to Carer’s Leave means I have been able to continue working and strike a good balance between my working role and my caring role without giving up on any one of these.  

And I’m determined – I don’t go for the easy option. 

You don’t choose to be a carer – circumstances make you one, there’s usually no way out of it and you have to make lot of sacrifices. 

But you share a closer bond with the person you’re supporting. It’s rewarding to know that somebody values your support. I didn’t get to be a doctor, but I feel I’m the person I need to be. 

My Carers Story is an ongoing project by Carers Leeds to capture the stories of unpaid carers across our city. If you are interested in taking part, please email Juliet.