Meet Rachel Grainger-Christou
Rachel Grainger-Christou is a registered nurse who works for the Cypriot cancer charity Pasykaf. She is one of a team of four nurses who support patients throughout the Pafos region. A Mother of two, she has lived in Cyprus since 1993 when she moved from the UK.
Where did you spend isolation and with whom? Any pets?
When I was not working, I was in isolation with my Mum Janet and my 21-year-old son, Yiannis. We live together here in Petridia in Emba with our three dogs, Sky, Sabbah and Lollie, all of whom were rescue puppies and rehomed dogs from Animal Rescue Cyprus over the last 12 years. So, I am fortunate to have plenty of company! My eldest son, however, Andreas-David is in Finland where he lives and works in Helsinki with his partner, Tiina.
How did you cope with isolation? How did you stay busy?
Isolation, for me, was not a problem; we are a very close family. When I am off duty, I always appreciate my time at home as it is a safe haven for me away from the outside world. I like my privacy and time to switch off. I have also been catching up with painting the house, which I enjoy. As long as I have music (much to my family’s disdain due to my rotten singing voice), I enjoy it! Walking the dogs has actually increased my daily exercise, and I have also been getting back into my yoga routine. I have been reading ebooks and keeping up with webinars and distance learning courses, as no seminars or nursing conferences are happening for the time being. Generally, I have been doing the things I enjoy, which I don’t always have time to do. I am also in constant contact with my colleagues, communicating about our work and supporting each other. We are a very close-knit team, for which I am very grateful.
What is the current status of your organisation?
At Pasykaf, our Home Care Nursing Service provides support, education and specialised nursing care 365 days of the year to cancer patients and their families island-wide. This service continues, particularly now with Covid-19, as many patients and their carers are finding themselves more isolated than ever before. Especially as many relatives are not able to presently travel to Cyprus to be with their loved ones. Our services have adapted to the new data and guidelines, and we continue to work hard for those who need us, either in their own home or in the office by appointment. We have increased safety measures based on the recommendations by the Ministry of Health and European protocols with the appropriate use of PPE.
Our Psychosocial team are available from the office but also working remotely from home, continuing to uphold their appointments with patients and carers, either by phone or video call. Many of our patients still feel safer calling in.
Pasykaf has also opened a new Pancyprian Psychological Support Helpline run by our specialised team of Psychologists to offer support and guidance both on cancer issues and the management of intense emotions that are increased due to Covid-19. The number to call is 22 34 69 24 .
The free daily bus service to Limassol and Nicosia is not running at present due to the social distancing rules. However, our driver Panicos is driving daily by car to take prescriptions and return with medication and necessary supplies.
Our offices remain open as usual throughout the week from 8 am – 4 pm (Mon – Thurs) and 8am – 1pm (every Friday).
“WE ARE ALWAYS IN CONTACT, WITHOUT NEEDING TO COME INTO CONTACT!”
Do you have anything you would like to promote?
Pasykaf is solely reliant on donations and fundraising activities to keep going. For all the charities, it is a worrying time. I believe the impact will be felt long after the lockdown measures have been lifted, so we will have a lot of hard work to do to raise funds so that we can keep offering our free services and programmes. Of course, people can still take part in their own fundraising activities; it is a time more than ever to be innovative, creative and have fun at the same time. We have seen many fundraising initiatives throughout the Lockdown on social media which inspire us to take part too for a cause close to our hearts. People can find the Association’s Banking Details on our website for direct donations at pasykaf.org.
Do you have a message/advice for business owners?
I really feel for the small businesses. It is essential to keep a positive attitude. We all survived the 2013 financial crisis, and we can survive this also. Look after your employees for they are the ones who help build your business. Covid-19 is still going to be with us, so it’s a case of adjusting to a new kind of normality. Stay mentally and physically well, and look into new ways of promoting and expanding your business. Step up and pull together!
What was positive about being in isolation?
I relished my time at home with my Mum and Yianni together, while keeping in contact with my closest friends. Just being able to do the things I enjoy, investing in self-care time. We are called Human Beings, not Human ‘Doings’, so it’s ok to just ‘be’, it’s not always necessary to be ‘busy’ all of the time.
We were just asked to stay home and stay safe, thus protecting ourselves, our families and the rest of the population. Sadly, this is a privilege which isn’t an option for all – for the homeless, refugees, people in domestic crisis, this is a significant problem, and, with so many people not working, I can see more and more people in this situation from now on. This is why a community spirit and compassion is needed more now than ever before.
What was negative about being in isolation?
Not being able to make any definite plans as there is a lot of uncertainty. We had a lot of plans this year as a family, so we have to be patient for now. I’ll feel happier when I know my son Andreas and Tiina can travel to Cyprus. Also, I am missing close friends who would typically be visiting Cyprus at this time of year.
Are you cooking and if so, share your favourite dish?
Yes, I am cooking, but it is usually a team effort with my mum. I’m also enjoying doing lots of baking which I don’t always have time to do. I made Hot Cross Buns for the first time and my fruit scones have been very popular in the house with lots of butter & strawberry jam! My lemon drizzle cake is my son’s favourite. However, my signature dish is Chicken a la crème with sweet potatoes, vegetables and garlic pitta. And a glass of chilled Tsangarides Organic Shiraz Maratheftiko!
What were you been watching to pass the time? Can you recommend any films/series?
I love travel documentaries with one of my favourites being Joanna Lumley’ “The Source of the Nile”. I also like the “Levison Wood Expeditions”, and the “Gordan, Gino & Fred Road Trips” are so entertaining!
What have you been listening to in terms of music? Can you recommend an album?
The genres of music in our house are incredibly varied! I love Soul, R&B, Soft Rock, and the variety of music on Magic Radio UK. For a more meditative state of mind, I have also been enjoying music by the German artist, Deuter, who is an instrumentalist and Ajeet Kaur, who is a sacred chant artist who is excellent for yoga and meditation.
When things get back to normal, what are you looking forward to the most?
I will not be rushing out and about everywhere. We will all still have to be very careful and act responsibly. I believe it’s going to be a new kind of normal for us all. I am desperate to see my son Andreas and Tiina from Helsinki. Simple things like going out with my mum for a coffee and lunch, seeing the friends we have been missing and taking our walks by the sea again. I am also being able to give long-awaited hugs to friends who have lost loved ones and are having to grieve in isolation.
To make a donation to the cancer charity Pasykaf, please visit their website at pasykaf.org.