Marian Coertzen


1. What is your name?
Marian Coertzen

2. Which hospice do you work for?
St Francis Hospice

3. What do you do there?
Professional Nurse/ home care

4. How long have you been there?
9 years


1. Why did you decide to focus on palliative care?
I wanted more training and experience in holistic nursing care.

2. What gives you the greatest fulfilment?
Feedback from patients and their family acknowledging the positive difference my interventions have made to their well-being.

3. What do you find the most challenging?
When a patient’s pain and other symptoms don’t respond to treatment.

4. What do you think people find the most challenging about a life-threatening diagnosis?
A life-threatening diagnosis creates an overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness. Loss of life is reflected by loss in all areas. The list of “losses” is endless, independence , mobility , income, relationships, dignity , the joy of planning holidays and celebrations. Loneliness overwhelms the person as they realise they are on a one way journey that they have to walk alone.

5. What do you think that you personally bring to your job that reflects who you are as a person?
Peace and a calm assurance generated by conviction that life is alarmingly short but there is life after death.

6. How do you take care of your own health and balance?
I draw on my very supportive husband, family and friends for emotional and spiritual refreshment. I eat a reasonably healthy diet, exercise regularly and set aside time for personal recreation.

7. What is your advice to anyone else wishing to join your profession?
Make sure your personal life isn’t in turmoil. You need supportive relationships outside of Hospice to keep your life in balance.

8. What is your advice to anyone given a life-threatening diagnosis?
My advice will depend on how much the person wants to know. In this “Fragile” period its important to ask them how they feel before giving advice.

9. What is your advice to the loved ones of anyone who is given a life-threatening diagnosis?
I treat the family as I do the patient. I find out, through gentle questioning, how much information they are ready to receive. Sometimes the family member is more distraught than the patient. In this case my advice would be to turn to other family members and close friends for support.

10. How do your loved ones feel about the work that you do?
They are proud of what I do, never complaining when Hospice duties curb family activities.

11. What do you like the most about the hospice that you work with?
My colleagues. We work, laugh and cry together.

12. Do you have a “motto” that you tend to live by that you would like to share?
“Life matters” every individual has the same intrinsic, eternal value and deserves the best possible care.