A cheeky picture of me and my mum, looking all happy with our Starbucks in New York City. It was the holiday of a lifetime and my mum loved losing herself in the wide, American streets,. Yet fourteen/fifteen years ago the picture was completely different because when I was 10 years old my mum was seriously ill with leukaemia. It’s a really hard thing to have to go through, for all parties involved and I wanted to offer my experience and advice for anyone who’s parent has cancer.
I was forced to grow up pretty quickly and in a matter of months my life changed completely. In a way I’m grateful that I was only young (it sounds horrible but hear me out) because I was largely shielded from what she was going through, as I didn’t really understand what leukaemia meant. I knew that mum was seriously ill, I remember thinking she was going to die but it’s only with hindsight and maturity that I’ve really been able to appreciate how ill she really was.
Talk about it // My family were amazing and when mum was first diagnosed and they rallied around, ensuring that my family were surrounded by nothing but love and hope. My uncles and aunties played a massive role in this and they’ll never understand how much I love them for what they did for us. My grandparents somehow managed to remain strong and set an incredible example for me, showing that it was ok to be upset but in the end you had to let your strength win. These are the people you are going to want to talk to because they have some level of understanding of what you are going through and in all likelihood they are going through something similar themselves.
Tell them you love them // It’s three little words but it makes the world of difference to people and helps give them the strength to fight the illness.
Try to make them smile // When my mum was ill I was initially reluctant to visit her, I just hated seeing her in the hospital and I remember her looking so ill. It sounds silly but it didn’t feel she was my mum, my mum was so different to the sick woman that was on the hospital bed and I guess I wanted to pretend that it was her. It took me a long time to want to go see her and my grandparents had to pretty much persuade me too, but eventually I did. It was the best thing, and I urge you to go visit them and make them smile when you do, try to act as normal as you possibly can even though it’s the most abnormal of settings. It’ll make the world of difference because then they’ll have happy memories to think about.
What will be will be // Despite it being almost fifteen years since that hard time, we have had several scares one of which we are going through at the moment. There’s always that threat that maybe some day it could come back but at the same time it might not. The key words in that sentence are some day, could and might. It’s hard not to thank about what would happen if it ever returned but you have to try not to because it will only make life harder and life is hard enough as it is.
My mum is the kindest, funniest and most selfless person I know and it amazes me how she’s come out of it such a strong and incredible woman, but cancer has a way of doing that to people. It pushes them to their limits and forces them to find a strength that they never knew they had.
What tips would you add?
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