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“When he was diagnosed, our entire world shattered.”

Naomi, Carey’s mum

When a child is diagnosed with something as life altering as cancer, it affects the whole family.

Life becomes a constant stream of appointments and treatments and parents quite often slip into autopilot just so they can hold it altogether and get through it one day at a time.

But life doesn’t stop during this treatment, they still have to think about work, bills, mortgages, their partners, other children, childcare and schooling. It’s a lot.

And when treatment ends they aren’t completely out of the woods. The cancer could still return, but they don’t have to be in the hospital quite as much. And it’s at this point that families can begin to take stock; but that’s when what they have been through really hits them.

Carey’s story

Carey was just 9 months old when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia. He went through three rounds of chemotherapy before receiving his sister Aubrey’s bone marrow, which eventually put him into remission.

Naomi, Carey’s mum, found the experience overwhelming.

When Carey was diagnosed, our entire world shattered. There is no part of our lives that cancer did not effect.

Without support, children and their families coming out the other side of often long and gruelling cancer treatment, get stuck emotionally and find it impossible to deal with the trauma they have experienced and find it hard to move forward with their lives.

Through our fundraising, emotional support has been available for children and their families from the start of a cancer diagnosis and through treatment for the last few years. But because of the growing demand for this service, there is only limited provision once the active treatment ends.

Naomi explains the impact of the counselling support she received, “I would have never got through this terrible experience if it wasn’t for the psychological support I received.

“The support I received before Carey’s transplant was mostly to prepare me for the long, harrowing process of living in hospital for weeks and dealing with the intense stress at this stage in his treatment. It also helped me to stay connected to my daughter who I did not see for weeks on end whilst Carey and I lived in hospital.

“It’s safe to say that I found most of the bone marrow transplant process manageable thanks to the brilliant work preparing me and giving me strategies to cope and stay connected to my daughter during this time.”

“Post treatment I saw the therapist a few times whilst we were still in the thick of post-transplant care and then started post treatment counselling six months after Carey’s transplant.

“The counselling sessions were a wonderful release and helped us make sense of the hellish whirlwind we had been living. They gave me some grounding whilst still juggling Carey’s care and family life. They kept me sane and gave me hope.”

“My partner Simon and I realised very quickly that we would need to ‘fix’ ourselves if we were going to be able to move forward as a family and not let cancer define us and send us into a pit of misery.

“I had started getting flash backs from the very traumatic time Carey spent in intensive care and the time around his diagnosis. I would suddenly be crying the street or car and it was having an impact on my daily life and ability to function as a mother and partner.

“Traumatic memories which I was unable to discuss without dissolving into tears are now manageable thoughts. I had blocked out this period in our lives, but distressing thoughts were intruding into everyday life at any time and Aubrey would often see me sad with no reason.

“On the anniversary of Carey’s diagnosis, we relived every day of this traumatic period the previous year, but I could cope. The positive affirmations installed in my brain mean I could manage, and function and we had a wonderful December and Christmas. This would not have been possible if I had not had this support.”

 

To make sure the support is there for the hundreds of local families this affects, we are fundraising to extend the Clinical Psychology service at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, so that children and their families have access to ongoing emotional support once they have finished their treatment.

This means that other families with experiences like Naomi’s, can get the help they need to get back to their lives, one day at a time.

Here’s how you can help:

£4,000 – this could fund a month of this new service
£1,000 – could fund a week of this service
£200 – could pay for one day of this service

We know that times are hard at the moment and these amounts may seem too much. But there are lots of other ways that your donations can help families experiencing cancer:

£10 – could pay for an activity book for a child while they wait for their appointment
£25 – could buy some beads of courage for siblings to provide support and recognition of the impact on them
£50 – could fund a Medibear, a special friend that is custom made to reflect the treatment their owner is having, helping them understand what’s happening
£100 – could fund handmade hair bands and wraps for three children dealing with hair loss

So whatever you can do, please help us to support these families to get through this life shattering experience, one day at a time.

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