Monday 23 Sep 2019
When my wife, Olivia, was diagnosed with cancer, she found it so helpful meeting people going through similar things at Maggie's. When she died, we knew the door at Maggie’s was always open.
Life changed completely in 2014 when my wife, Olivia, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
There was no hope of a cure, or even that we could look forward to another 10 years together. From day one, it was more about palliative care; making Olivia comfortable and slowing down the disease as best we could.
I still find it difficult to talk about my wife and what happened to our family. We were so close, and there really aren’t any words to describe how it felt to know that I was going to lose Olivia. Logan, our son, was only eight at the time.
Olivia’s treatment was intense. She had both tablet and fluid forms of chemotherapy. She also had radiotherapy and all the scans involved in that. There were literally bags full of tablets that she needed to take.
Olivia met people who were going through similar things at Maggie’s and that really helped her in a way that the rest of the family couldn’t. She attended several groups – creative writing, tai chi and talking groups – that she massively benefitted from because she was surrounded by people who knew what living with cancer was like.
For Logan, I think the most difficult thing was the anxiety and lack of information, not just from me and his Mum, but also from the medical team. But the staff at Maggie’s had the time and expertise to help him through the ordeal of having a parent with cancer. They helped with his day-to-day life when I couldn’t, because my focus was on keeping everything together.
Our time with Olivia got very difficult towards the end. The cancer had spread to her brain, which was awful for her. It was difficult to keep her at home. Olivia knew this and had asked that we get her into a hospice sooner rather than later; the family just had to rally round.
Olivia had always worked in jobs where she cared for people and she never stopped caring right to the end. One of her final wishes was to donate her body to medical science to help others in the future. That’s just Olivia through and through – she always wanted to give.
After Olivia died, we knew the door at Maggie’s was always open.
"Being able to go to Maggie’s helped Logan to see that even though life at home had changed massively, there was still a world outside our family that he could engage with, full of people who cared for us."
This is what Olivia wanted for us, to move forwards, take strength from the circumstances and not to be bogged down by the horrendous events that we all went through.
I’ve been coming to Maggie’s with my dad for about five years, since my mum was diagnosed with cancer.
I was only eight and it was heartbreaking. Dad was honest and upfront, which I appreciated.
I worried about my parents. As time went on, I saw how bad things were for Mum; Dad seemed distant, like he was on another planet.
Having to deal with the reality that I wouldn’t have a mum at some point soon was really hard. Maggie’s helped me to come to terms with that. Without that I think I would be a different person than I am today.
I remember exactly how I felt, and the exact time Mum passed away. I was sitting on my bed and Dad walked in teary eyed and said: “Logan, it’s happened.” The reality hit me that this was the end. Maggie’s was there for me again after Mum’s death, helping me cope.
I hope that me and Dad can move past what’s happened, that I can make something out of myself, and that Dad can settle down and relax more. I still worry about him.
We want to always be there for people with cancer and their families. For some, that’s support during treatment; for others, support for their families after their death.
This is only possible because of your regular gifts; knowing what donations will be coming in month by month means we can make sure the best cancer support is available to everyone, whenever they need it.
Whatever you’re able to afford, every regular gift means that others get the kind of help we could provide for Olivia, Scott and Logan.
If you or someone you love has cancer, Maggie’s is here with you.
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