I can remember the day so clearly. I came home from work as normal at 6pm but my mums car was on the drive. Now, my mum lives 70 miles away so she doesn’t just pop in after work for a cup of tea. I instantly knew that this was bad news and I couldn’t help but think of the worst. The walk from my car to the door felt like a mile rather than just a few steps. I opened the door to see my Mum, boyfriend, stepdad, and two sisters sitting in my lounge with hot drinks. I smiled and asked what they were doing here but I already knew the answer. I knew that my mum had been at hospital to find out the results of her tonsillectomy and biopsy. The news was not good and Mum, being mum, needed to get to everyone fast. See even though she was just dealt the shittest of hands, she was thinking of everyone else as usual. My smallest sister didn’t want to be here to hear my mum deliver the news to me so Dave took her upstairs to try and find the cats instead. She was only 8 at the time and hearing the words “Mummy has cancer” once was enough for one day.
So there it was the big C… sitting in my lounge staring me straight in the face. I had to be strong now because my mum was going to need us in good form so I didn’t cry much that day but it did catch up with me in the end. It’s ok to have a good cry, I like to believe it clenses the soul. I couldn’t take the Cancer away like I wanted to, but I remember thinking that there must be something I can do to help or to make this whole process easier for her. She is the nicest person I know, so I just kept thinking what would she do if it was the other way round? So here is a little bit of advice, from me to anyone who is facing the same journey or for anyone who just needs some reasurrance. You will feel useless and you will feel like what you are doing is insignificant but please be aware that actually what you are doing is probably helping way more than you realise.
Attend appointments ♥
My mum struggled to take in all the information at her initial appointments. Shock and stress took over and there really was a lot to take in and remember. So my step dad and I went along to her appointments and asked lots of questions too, we listened and took it all in for her and made notes of all her up coming appointments. It was peace of mind for us aswell as for mum. This way we had it covered and between us we managed to get it right most of the time.
Talk & Listen ♥
It was really important to talk about the treatment and the concerns that my mum had. Sometimes I wrote them down and made a list of questions for the doctors just in case she forgot them. Other times she just wasn’t able to talk at all so instead we communicated via text message and every day I would text to see how she is doing and we would talk about the good and bad. I also kept her up to date on what was going on in my life just to try and keep some normality.
Stay Positive ♥
The effects of the treatment for my mum were horrific and at times she got really upset and would say that she can’t do it anymore. I felt it was important to remind her of why she was going through the pain. Whilst it was awful, the treatment was better than the alternative. I tried really hard to remain upbeat and remind her how well she was doing. Not in a patronising way but just a “hey you have totally got this and your kicking cancers butt” kind of way. I also posted her positive Disney quotes and things to keep her busy when I couldnt be there as a surprise to lift her spirits.
Be patient ♥
Emotions were running high for the whole family so it was important to be patient with eachother. Team work was more important than ever.
Do more around the house ♥
Getting organised really helps too, doing the washing up, changing the bedding or offering to make a cup of tea can really make someones day. During treatment my mum was so tired and helping out around the house when I visited was a big help to her and my dad. I also made chore charts for my little sisters so they would help out and get involved too. Any job that I could do meant I was taking a load off of someone else. It’s also pretty important to make sure the house is clean during treatment anyway because of the effects of the Chemo.
Make a therapy survival kit ♥
I included the small things that would help make life easier, safer and more comfortable for her. Items that I included were: A book to read during treatment, bottled water to ease her dry mouth, hand sanitizer to keep the germs away, a soft scarf to cover her neck, a blender/juicer to make smoothies and soups for the days she would be to sore to swallow whole foods, a pretty notebook to document her journey and write down any questions or concerns she has, and also a gratitude diary to make a note everyday of the positives because even on the darkest days we can all find one thing to be grateful for.
Be strong and brave but make sure you have support too ♥
Cancer takes it toll on the whole family and that includes everyone involved directly or indirectly. Make sure that you look after yourself and you have someone to talk to and lean on a little bit. My other half was really good support for me which in turn meant I was better support for mum.
Cancer is one of those things that we take for granted because while we know it is a horrible thing to have, we also think that it just wouldn’t effect us. We have all said or heard it”I’ll give up smoking another time I’m not quite ready yet, there is no rush” It’s something I always put off and I have always believed I had plenty of time to do it when I was good a bloody ready! Well time is not promised to us and there is no time like the present.
My mum had a T2 tumour in her tonsils and after surgery, six long weeks of daily radiotherapy and two high doses of chemo she has now finished her main treatment plan. We are hopeful that the treatment will have worked and that will be the end of that. No doubt they will keep a close eye on her for a long time but for now we can relax a little and support her during the healing process. The treatment really has taken its toll on her in more ways than we could have imagined so we will take it one day at a time. Gone are the days of taking life for granted because this was a huge wake up call for all of us ♥.
If you are going through a similar situation then you should know that Macmillan have been amazing throughout and their website is full of information and advice. I wish you all best on your Cancer journey whether you are the patient or the support ♥