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Daughter of tumour victim tells Parliament about burden

PUBLISHED: 10:36 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:47 06 July 2018

Dr Ingrid Wassenaar at Parliament on July 3. PHOTO: Brain Tumour Research

Dr Ingrid Wassenaar at Parliament on July 3. PHOTO: Brain Tumour Research

Brain Tumour Research

A grandmother who died from a brain tumour was remembered at Westminster as her daughter told MPs of the economic and social burden placed on her family by the disease.

Paula Wassenaar, who passed away in September 2017 of a brain tumour. PHOTO: Brain Tumour ResearchPaula Wassenaar, who passed away in September 2017 of a brain tumour. PHOTO: Brain Tumour Research

Paula Wassenaar, from Drayton, died at a nursing home in Hellesdon in 2017, months after her diagnosis, aged 81.

Dr Ingrid Wassenaar, her daughter, said: “We were still reeling from Mum’s diagnosis and prognosis, when we found ourselves standing in hospital corridors, being told there was no possibility of a hospice place for our mother.

“Her financial situation meant that the only NHS hospice in the area was not available to her. Instead, she was left with no option but to go to a non-specialised nursing home, paying huge fees.

“We knew that a hospice would have been better placed to meet her needs, but it simply wasn’t available.”

Born in East Finchley, Mrs Wassenaar moved to Norwich to raise a family, having travelled the world working for Royal Dutch Shell.

Within two weeks of a scan in 2017, she was bed-bound in hospital, and her children had to decide where she would spend her final days.

“Before she was discharged from hospital, she was not deemed eligible for any financial support, although she could not walk or care for herself,” said Dr Wassenaar. “It was clear she was expected to pay for the full £4,000 a month cost of the nursing home herself. It felt like walking off a cliff.”

Mrs Wassenaar was able to just cover costs and the upkeep of her home through a widow’s pension and savings.

Dr Wassenaar, who had to give up her freelance teaching job to tend to her mum, said: “Throughout Mum’s time in the care home, I thought about the people that weren’t in her position, who couldn’t afford the costs of their care.”

On July 3, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours led a roundtable inside parliament of those affected by brain tumours, where patients and family members, including Dr Wassenaar, could share their experiences.

This is part of an inquiry into the economic and social impacts of brain tumours. Visit www.braintumourresearch.org/stories/in-our-hearts/in-our-hearts-stories/paula-wassenaar


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