Duncan's story – Maggie's was our second home - Maggie's Centres

Duncan's story – Maggie's was our second home

Monday 6 January 2020
Maggie's Edinburgh

My wife Helen found a lump in her breast when our daughters Isla and Eleanor were just five years-old and 18 months-old.

She was determined our whole family would have somewhere to go for support and during the first couple of years of treatment Maggie’s Edinburgh became a second home to us all. We always popped in for support around Helen’s appointments at the hospital. The team were there for us when the cancer came back too, this time in Helen’s spine and bones.


Helen’s emotional response to it coming back was overshadowed by the memories of her sister dying from cancer when she was a teenager. It made her fears even greater than they otherwise might have been but Maggie’s was there to support her and help her to deal with how she was feeling.

Helen’s treatment continued and a clinical trial gave us two years of normality. We really made the most of our time together with lots of happy trips in our camper van.

When the treatment stopped working, Maggie’s was there for us at the end of Helen’s life and have been a huge support after she died too, helping us all cope as best we can with her not being here anymore.

Maggie’s really helped Isla and Eleanor during this time. They had one-to-one sessions with Cancer Support Specialists and went to Kids’ Days to learn about the treatment Helen was having.

I remember them telling me they put a teddy through the MRI machine and really enjoyed spending time with the other children – drawing and talking about their similar experiences. It really helped them understand what was happening to their mum and gave them a chance to express their emotions.

Isla told me: “I know I could just go bleugh with Andy and tell him everything that was on my mind. I knew he would understand and listen.”

We still visit Maggie’s two years on. We spend time in the centre together, but also all speak to the staff individually, talking about Helen and our grief, but also what’s happening at school and how our lives are moving forward.

We all miss Helen hugely, but life has to move on and Maggie’s has really helped us to move through the sadness to find a place where we can move forward, where we can be positive about the future. I can’t thank the staff at Maggie’s Edinburgh enough.

Duncan, Isla and Eleanor on Children in Need 2019

The family were featured on BBC Children in Need on Friday 15 November 2019. Their film shows how important the support we provide for families is when a parent is facing an advanced cancer diagnosis.

Actor David Tennant, visited Maggie’s Edinburgh for the first time to hear how funding from Children in Need has helped families like theirs.


Family support at Maggie's

We can help you find ways to have difficult conversations, support you as you come to terms with changes in your life or help you to adapt to your new role as a carer.

You can also join our Friends and Family course, which covers practical things like how to take care of yourself and the person you're caring for.

Get in touch with your nearest centre to find out how we can support you.

More stories from our centres

View all stories

Sandra's story – dealing with a complex diagnosis

How Maggie's group sessions helped me.
Read story

Scott and Logan's story – how Maggie's supported our family

Read story

Jeff's story – living without my wife

Read story

Find a centre

To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

Keep in touch

Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.
Sign up