A mum-of-two who was left devastated and struggling to cope with the emotional impacts of her daughter’s cancer diagnosis has praised a life-changing partnership between CLIC Sargent and Morrisons.
Fleur Garstang, a people adviser at Morrisons in Colne, Lancashire, said CLIC Sargent was the ‘missing link’ when 12-year-old Millie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015, and admits breaking down when colleagues across Morrisons voted for them to become their charity partner in January this year.
She said: “It is hard for me to believe what CLIC Sargent does for families like ours. I cried when I found out Morrisons had picked them as our charity partner. I rang Millie straight away.
"I always knew Morrisons were a great company, and it just felt incredible that the company were supporting this cause, so close to my heart.”
Millie had her thyroid removed in November 2015, just months after doctors at Royal Blackburn Hospital discovered a seemingly innocuous lump in her throat was cancerous.
Over the next few months she underwent radiotherapy and two gruelling rounds of radioiodine treatment in complete isolation at The Christie hospital in Manchester.
Fleur added: “After Millie’s diagnosis. I was just in a state of complete shock. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak. We were supposed to go home, but I didn’t want to take Millie home. I wanted her to be fixed there and then. Then Alison appeared. She asked if I was Fleur, and I said yes, and she told me she was going to be my social worker from CLIC Sargent.
"I had never heard of CLIC Sargent before but she explained what they do , and said she would be there for anything we needed and if ever we wanted to talk about anything.
My feelings were valid
"She offered to help us navigate the complicated world of Millie’s condition, by being there to clarify complex medical terms. She reassured me that everything I was feeling was totally normal. She said ‘you will experience some extreme thoughts’ and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about them.
“She kept telling us how well we were doing, and she reminded me that having difficult episodes is normal, and that I wasn’t dwelling on things – that I was allowed to feel this way. It is the worst thing in the world to hear that your child has cancer, and Alison made me feel like my feelings were valid.”
Millie is back to doing all the things she enjoys, including competing in cross country for Lancashire. When she is 16, she hopes to join the CLIC Sargent music programme.
Fleur is now joining thousands of Morrisons colleagues across the country in a bid to raise £8m for CLIC Sargent over the next three years.
Money raised will fund a brand new team of CLIC Sargent nurses to educate other health, social care and education professionals close to families’ homes and new Home Hubs close to Specialist Treatment Hospitals, providing a welcoming environment for families to take a much needed break from the intensity of hospital.
Funds will also help CLIC Sargent expand its financial grants to families and develop a ground-breaking new digital hub, giving thousands of young people and their families access to expert advice and information when and where they want it.
In the Morrisons store in Colne where Fleur works, colleagues took on the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks challenge, completing their 24 mile trek in under 12 hours and raising more than £5,000 for CLIC sargent.
Rachel Barnett, team manager at Morrisons Colne, said: “The weather on the day was less than ideal with torrential rain all day.
"With the support of everyone involved, all 22 participants completed the challenge in our target of under 12 hours. Thank you to all that sponsored and supported us!"
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.
Fleur and Millie’s story was originally published on Morrison’s Family blog.