Thursday 18th February 2021
Sue, from Blackpool, explains how not being able to be there for her son Harry, 22, during his cancer treatment was tough for them both:
“It was absolutely awful having to drop Harry off and watch him walk away by himself for chemotherapy.
“Harry still had three treatments left when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It was before lockdown, but the hospital decided it wasn’t safe for patients to have people with them, so I wasn’t allowed to go with him to have his chemo.
“I’m just glad it was towards the end of the treatment as I don’t think I could have sent him off every time on his own. I feel for anyone just starting out as it must be absolutely horrible for them and for their parents when they can’t have anyone with them. They must be worried about the treatments being delayed too.
“Harry was pretty stoic about the fact that he had to go by himself because it was one of those things that couldn’t be avoided, but deep down I knew he wouldn’t particularly like it. Apart from anything else, it’s really boring and Harry’s not one to sit on his phone. I used to chat to him and distract him to keep his mind off it.
“I’d been with him throughout his treatment and we were so close to the end, that I’m sad I couldn’t see it through with him. Harry wouldn’t have drawn attention to his last session but if I was there, I would have clapped when the equipment was all pulled out and probably cried. It was treated like a non-event, but it was a big event to me. We would have liked to have taken the nurses thank you gifts, but we couldn’t do that either.
“When he got the all clear that was over the phone too. Because he was 21 and classed as an adult, they told him directly. Harry was a little embarrassed telling the doctor his mum wanted to speak to him too, but I needed to hear it with my own ears.
“Chris, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Clinical Liaison Nurse Specialist, was there for me when nobody understood what I, as a mum, was going through. She gave me hope when I didn’t have any. I was able to talk to her about absolutely anything even if it wasn’t directly related to Harry’s illness. Because he was diagnosed at Stage 4, I felt like I should have seen something and that I had missed it. She reassured me that it wasn’t my fault.
“I couldn’t see Chris in person due to coronavirus, but she was still there via the phone. I knew I could ring her any time and usually I’d get hold of her straight away. It was crucial that I still had that support when I was worried about something or when I just needed someone to talk to.”
Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent are calling for a commitment from the Government that, where possible, young people will be allowed a companion at key moments during cancer diagnosis and treatment.