Juliette's story – support for all the family - Maggie's Centres

Juliette's story – support for all the family

Monday 6 January 2020
Maggie's Edinburgh

Juliette had recovered from cancer when her mum, Sue, was diagnosed with cancer.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma three days before I was due to fly to South America for a three-month trip of a lifetime. 

My mum, dad, brother and sister all supported me throughout but the best advice I ever got from a friend was to go to Maggie’s, as the support there was something I just wouldn’t get from the hospital. 

Maggie’s was the calm in the storm through both my cancer diagnosis and treatment. The staff there help to normalise cancer and they give you hope. You always leave Maggie’s feeling better. When you’re sitting around the kitchen table at Maggie’s with other people going through similar experiences and you have no hair and no eyebrows – Maggie’s allows you to laugh again.

Following treatment I made a full recovery and came to work for Maggie’s in the community fundraising team in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

My mum’s diagnosis

My mum, Sue, also needed the support of Maggie’s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and again, ​eight years later when secondary breast cancer was discovered. The whole family were heartbroken but the centre staff were pivotal in helping us cope. Everyone from mum, dad, my brother and sister and my godfather attended Maggie’s – and fell in love with the place. 

Support from Maggie’s helped us to speak openly with each other. When my mum’s treatment wasn’t working any longer, it was through Maggie’s that we were able to have important final discussions about my mum’s funeral wishes.

My dad and I didn’t feel ready to discuss my mum’s final wishes – it was just too raw and too emotional. But the centre head Andy had a session with my mum on her own and he came back and told us that mum was in a good place; she had accepted what was happening and she was ready to have those discussions about what she wanted and that made us feel ready too.

That meant that we were able to give mum exactly what she wanted. We knew she wanted to be buried in a special memorial wood, we even went to visit it with her and made all the final arrangements to mum’s instructions, including that everyone was to wear lots of colour to the funeral and there was to be no black in sight. The flowers were to be natural, wild and colourful. 

Mum didn’t want to hide away, she wanted to see her friends right to the end. She even went to a Christmas party at a friend’s on 28 December just a few days before she died on 4 January. 

Sometimes it’s harder for friends and family because they don’t know what to say or how to react when a loved one has cancer. For emotional support you just need to go in to Maggie’s – they can help and also keep you smiling. 

Fundraising in the family 

To raise funds for Maggie’s I have completed four Monster Bike and Hike trails; ​ran (43 miles) and cycled (30 miles) the Great Glen Way solo; done a trek to Vietnam and have put on numerous ceilidhs and raffles to raise funds for Maggie’s.

Along with my partner Francis I cycled between 21 Maggie’s centres across the UK, covering over 1,600 miles to raise £13,000!

Dad has also put on a number of art exhibitions in the local church and at home. Our family has raised more than £25,000 as a way of giving something back to Maggie’s for supporting us​ and one of Mum's wishes was for people to donate instead of give flowers at her funeral.

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