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Linda was at work when the hospital called and told her to come in as soon as possible. Her latest test results had just come in.

Racing against time, she left the paperwork on her desk as it was, not knowing that it would be the last time she was in the office.

“I knew something was wrong for ages. I remember one of my first signs was driving home from work when I suddenly had a migraine out of nowhere. It was so bad, I had to stop the car to be sick. I didn’t drive after that. After months of tests, I got the call asking to come in to chat. When they told me it was stage four lung cancer, my life changed forever.”

Linda was in shock. Although she had been poorly for months, the word itself seemed disconnected to her. As the cancer spread to her heart, she underwent two rounds of major heart surgery which had a huge impact on her mentally and physically. Six weeks in hospital, leaving her job and late decisions on benefit entitlements meant that Linda fell behind on her bills. Instead of taking the time to recover, she was overwhelmed with worry.

“Between the statutory sick pay ending and decisions being made about my benefits, I was really struggling. I was already very anxious and fearful about everything. I wasn’t in a place to worry about money when I was just trying to survive.”

Her line manager recommended getting in touch with the Charity to see if there was anything we could do to make life a bit easier. Luckily, she followed her advice and gave us a call. One of our team members had a long chat with Linda, discussing her situation and concerns. We found that we were able to provide financial support to help her pay her outstanding bills, automatically removing one worry from her mind. We also offered to pay for a respite weekend away in the UK for when she’s feeling better.

“One thing I've learnt from this, is to grasp every opportunity you get. I wish I had contacted the Charity in the past when times were tough. They treated me with dignity and kindness. I actually burst into tears when the woman on the phone said she could help me.”

Linda wants to share her story with other serving and retired civil servants in the hope that they will not hesitate to contact the Charity if in need. She is still focusing on feeling stronger and until then, she knows she has her lifelong community with her every step of the way.

“The Charity has had a huge impact on me mentally. They’ve helped me relax. To think I can actually look forward to a weekend away... it means everything to me.”

“These unprecedented times are like uncharted waters. One thing that gives us stability in life is routine, but change is inevitable at the moment. It thus became a matter of how we deal with change that counts. I felt like I would either sink or swim in this strange, new world and the Charity is helping me swim. They have been a source of my recovery.”

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