Cathy said: “When Zoe got her diagnosis it was a complete shock. You hear other people going through similar things but never think it would happen to you.
“We tried to be as mentally prepared as possible. Up in the ward, you see other mums, dads and family members going through the same thing but we were so in and out of hospital - it was hard to talk to any of them.
“It was a difficult time. I wanted to be there for her and help her as much as I could- but I wasn’t the one going through it. My daughter was. The emotional impact on the whole family was huge.
“This is when our CLIC Sargent Social Worker Urvashi introduced us to Paul’s House, where we could all stay during Zoe’s treatment. At first, I was a bit apprehensive to use Paul’s house.
“At the time, my husband was having to park far away from the hospital and Zoe was so tired, it was a struggle to get her to the ward. Urvashi helped us with our blue badge applications but it was still a struggle.
“Zoe then got an infection and this made her even weaker. Urvashi mentioned Paul’s house again and this time, we accepted her offer. We had visions of it being a hostel. That couldn’t have been further away from the truth. Paul’s House was amazing.
“We didn’t expect it to be so homely. It was a chance for us to escape and there was even cake day on a Thursday! It also gave us the chance for Zoe to talk to others going through a similar journey and for us to talk to some of the parents about their experience as well.
“Along this journey, we have met so many wonderful and supportive people. The kind words from strangers and everyone makes our day a bit brighter.”
A chance to meet others
Zoe said: “Paul’s House was great- it gave me a chance to meet other people going through the same thing as me. After my chemo and radiotherapy, I was exhausted.
“Looking back on my experience, I think I have changed. I don’t think I have changed for better or for the worse but it made me look at things very differently and made me a stronger person and makes me more understanding of things that may be going on in others lives.
“After my treatment, I joined the music programme residential at CLIC Sargent. I absolutely loved it. It was a chance to escape and feel normal. It was nice to enjoy something and not feel judged for how much medication I was taking or if I wanted to go have a nap during the day. Everyone there understood because they had been through it themselves!
Stay in contact
“The one piece of advice I would say is I know it’s really difficult but try to stay in contact with family and friends. Even if it’s really hard, especially in the beginning when you’re not sure what to say.
“Looking back, I would have liked to have talked to my friends and family a lot more because they were my support network and by not talking to them it made the journey a lot harder and more isolating.
Find out more
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families. Our care teams have been providing expert support across the UK for years. We fight tirelessly for young cancer patients like Zoe – individually, locally and nationally. Donate online now to help us continue our vital work.
To find out more about how CLIC Sargent can help support you, please contact us on 0300 330 0803 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.