Wednesday 10 May 2023
Laura and her mum, Linda, share how Maggie's has supported them both when Laura learnt that her skin cancer diagnosis was incurable.
I remember my first time coming in really clearly.
It was not long after my daughter Laura had had one of her first surgeries, when she was diagnosed with her primary cancer in 2017.
Even though I’m 60 and Laura is in her 30’s, as a mum, you want to fix your children’s problems. My daughter was told she had a malignant mole on her leg.
I would have done anything to fix this but I couldn’t.
What did it mean? Why wasn’t it me? It was all wrong.
It took courage to come through the front door of Maggie’s. It made it all real and I wasn’t sure what I was doing in there.
I was welcomed and was given a cup of tea. I could say to someone that I didn’t understand what it all meant.
I was feeling pure panic and fear, but my first trip to Maggie’s was a nice experience.
I started coming to Maggie’s just to talk and be in a relaxing place when my cancer was stage one. I thought I’ll just get on with it even though emotionally I was having a terrible time.
Four years on from that initial diagnosis, life was ticking along. Before a checkup, I noticed a lymph node in my groin was enlarged.
I had a flurry of appointments and was in and out of hospital having treatment for much of 2020.
I was lucky to get to go back to work and rebuild some ‘new normal’ in 2021. But in summer, my team noticed something concerning on my arm so I had further scans.
When the results came back, it was a big shock when we were told that the cancer was back.
But even more shockingly, it had also progressed to my ovaries. It meant it was stage four and terminal.
It felt like everything was unravelling.
Mum suggested that we go into Maggie’s. I just wanted to get home but, because I knew the team already, I thought OK, let’s go in.
We left thinking ‘thank god we came in’.
It was such a relief to hear reassurances like ‘no wonder you’re struggling’, ‘I understand why you’re feeling so terrible’.
Megan, a cancer support specialist, talked us through all the different scans, found us pictures of the equipment and helped me to understand what would happen.
The Maggie’s team having a background in oncology was the reassurance I needed.
I brought my partner Kava along sometimes and we talked about our son Reiko. Megan would suggest small things like all getting into bed together and reading a story at night.
It was simple, obvious things that we hadn’t thought of because we were so upset and I felt so ill.
One thing Megan said to me has stuck with me the most. She told me that ‘thinking about dying isn’t going to make you die any quicker, it’s just going to eat into all the good things.’
It was a turning point when life started to become more normal.
Maggie’s has given us support with a purpose. You leave with something you can use.
All of the pieces of my life were coming apart at 100 miles an hour, but Maggie’s helped us put them back together ourselves.
I restarted monthly immunotherapy in February 2022. My cancer is not curable, but my most recent scan was stable and the treatment has reduced my tumours.
In just one year, the difference in how I am is night and day. I didn't expect to be alive, for one. But actually, I'm alive and feel pretty well.
The goal is to live with cancer. For it not to be all consuming.
Now, we pop into Maggie’s for a laugh and a catch up. I support others too in the melanoma support group.
It’s not all about cancer; it’s also about who you are.
I was surprised that there's so much research about cancer itself but you're not told much about how to deal with your diagnosis.
Nobody sat down and said ‘you've got cancer, what kind of support do you need?’
You've got to find it. And once you do find it, you've got pluck up the courage to use it. It's scary to tell someone you need help.
But soon as you come in, it's so different. You can be sociable or unsociable as you want.
It's the calm in the chaos.
Hospital appointments can feel like you’re trying to make sense of a riddle. But Maggie's bridges a gap between the hospital and the person with cancer.
Maggie’s helped us feel confident in our hospital care and understand where to put my energy.
There was a fear of walking through the door, but when you're in here, it's almost like you're walking into a calm oasis. It feels like you can take a breath.
When you come in, you're looking for some hope. I've woken up some days just knowing I need to go to Maggie's because I need that bit of hope. And I’ve found it.
A year on from a stage four diagnosis, who would have expected that things would be so positive? Even knowing that there's still this monster in my daughter’s body.
I do have days where I think I can't do this anymore. But you can come in here and learn, understand a bit more about yourself.
One thing that I've taken away from Maggie's is you see what living with cancer means. What keeps me going is seeing Laura living life to the full as best she can whilst navigating living with cancer.
Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.
Last review: Oct 2023 | Next review: Oct 2024
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