A NURSE who found herself in despair when financial and health problems led to the loss of the family home has turned her life around thanks to a chance encounter with a charity.

Mother of two, Susan Unsworth, 55, from Chorley, had enjoyed a varied nursing career spanning nearly 30 years, when a catalogue of events put her in financial difficulty.

She had just secured her dream job, working as a sister in accident and emergency at Chorley and District General Hospital, after converting from an enrolled nurse.

But her joy at starting her new job in May 2008 turned to sadness when her husband of 27 years, Ken suffered from mental illness. Susan said: “The following months became a blur, with the loss of the family business and home, and trying to support my husband Ken through his illness, while at the same time having the responsibility of my new job.

“It was a pretty awful time.

“You just can't imagine losing your home.”

The couple, who have a daughter, aged 32, and son, 29, moved to rented accommodation.

With support from family, friends and colleagues, Susan rebuilt her life and thought that things were eventually sorting themselves out.

She had a new granddaughter, a new home, a job she loved and her husband was well on the way to recovery. But in February 2012, Susan received the devastating news that she had a malignant melanoma, following what she thought was a simple procedure to remove a “mole” from her forearm.

At the same time, she was trying to cope with surgery to her feet, involving a spur being removed from her heel, which left her struggling to do her job.

She said: “I was the main wage earner but I went on to half pay because of the time off I was having over my poor health.” It was while recuperating, that a friend took her to to the Royal College of Nursing Congress in Harrogate where she visited the Cavell Nurses’ Trust stand. The charity, named after First World War nursing heroine Edith Cavell, helps nurses and midwives, current and retired, in financial difficulties.

She followed up on the trust's information, and was granted a single award which helped towards their rent when her wages were reduced to half pay due to the protracted sick leave.

“That was a huge weight off my mind,” said Susan who has recently retired from her job following further surgery on her foot.

Susan who has now begun a part-time training job at her former hospital, said: “I hope my story highlights when things are desperate that there is help is out there.”