“Cancer really hadn't been anywhere on the horizon for me. I just thought they didn’t know what Bella’s infection was. But then I had this horrible realisation as they told us that there was a consultant who wanted to meet us. They came into the room and told us that she had neuroblastoma. I had to ask what on Earth that was.
“It was straight away that we started on treatment. It was two years of treatment. We were running around from week one. It was awful and just overwhelming. They told us that this was a rare form of cancer and was aggressive and that treatment had to start straight away. I just couldn’t get my head around it. She was so healthy and just a normal happy girl, so the idea that she had this illness was so hard.
“Myself and Mark were both working full time. Just three months prior I had gone and bought a house in my name only. I had bought a new car and I just had a moment where I thought what do I do?
“My CLIC Sargent Social Worker, Chrissy, came and picked me up like the angel that she is and said 'right, this is what you need to do, sign this, go here, do this'. I honestly don't know what I would've done without her.
A different person
“This whole experience has just changed me completely. I am a completely different person. I have absolutely no tolerance for people's rubbish now. I don't take it. When I hear the things people complain about I think 'I wish I could complain about that'.
“I definitely got stronger eventually, but so many things have been incredibly hard. When Bella was having the first chemo I was really struggling. She has since relapsed three times and that is the hardest possible thing to deal with.
“Only after she got the all clear did I sit down and have what I think was a mini-breakdown. I had to go on anti-depressants and beta blockers and I struggled with anxiety. I was told they were the classic signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“It was only when I had the time to myself that things really hit home. When they tell you that life will go back to normal, you realise how much your life has changed to fit this new life and how little you have really thought about the scale of these changes.
“I had some counselling myself with the PTSD, but it actually didn’t work for me. The counselling I found was organised through Macmillan and Relate, but it was adults with cancer and the counsellor was more of a relationship counsellor. It just didn't fit with my experiences and I felt like I didn’t really get anywhere.
“I spoke to Chrissy, my CLIC Sargent Social Worker a lot. She was who I could talk to about things. It felt like she understood and that is what you need. The people who it really helps to talk to are other parents. You have an understanding and you can relate and that is all you need sometimes.
Join our fight
Cancer can have an emotional and mental health impact on the whole family. 95% of parents experienced anxiety during their child’s treatment.
When cancer strikes young lives, CLIC Sargent helps the whole family cope. This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month join our fight and sign up to be a CLIC Sargent campaigner.