Learning to Adapt - My Grandma has Cancer

A child's perspective on adapting to living with a loved one's cancer.

 

18 months ago my mum received the first of two stage 4 cancer diagnoses that was to rock our world to its core. This blog is not about me, or even about mum. This blog was written by my 9 year old daughter who has approached the surreal pain of the last 18 months with maturity and positivity. There is another story to come about how we talk to children about death, but this is very much about life, and some of the things she has done to live it for mum.

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Hi I’m Georgia and I want to talk about my grandma and her cancer diagnosis.

Until April 2019, I had a normal life and I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with my Grandma. My Grandma has always played a huge part in my life - playing with me, dancing around the kitchen with me, baking, having fun sleepovers….

Then in April 2019 she started getting sick, having headaches all the time, getting confused and being exhausted.  It was very worrying but everyone, including a doctor, thought she just had a virus.

Then it was May half term and my dad and I had gone to see my other grandparents in Lancashire. Meanwhile, back at home my mum was getting more and more suspicious and worried so she took my grandma to the hospital to see what was the matter.  My mum and granddad were told that my grandma had a huge brain tumour and she was taken in an ambulance to Stoke Hospital where she had emergency brain surgery. She was being operated on for 8 hours!

I was able to visit her in hospital afterwards and she was really brave and looked much better. I was so relieved that she was OK.

Then a few weeks later, the thing we had been dreading most happened and she was diagnosed with brain cancer. I remember spending the whole afternoon crying but I spoke about everything with my mum and dad and we talked about how important it is to show grandma that she is alive and do all we can to have a lovely time with her. I knew that I would have to adapt to her new lifestyle though, and that things would never be the same again - which they aren’t. I have learnt that every moment counts.

My grandma has been really brave and all last summer she had treatment. She has had radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She now has to have an MRI on her brain every three months to see what the tumour is doing. My grandma won’t get better from the cancer so we just hope she will be OK for as long as possible.

One of the things that my mum and I have been doing since my grandma was diagnosed with cancer, is to raise money for charity and one of our main charities is The Brain Tumour Charity.

The Brain Tumour Charity funds pioneering research to increase survival, raise awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours and provide support for everyone affected to improve quality of life.  They have provided lot’s of support and information to my family over the past 18 months so me and my mum have tried to raise as much money as we can to support them.

2020 has been really challenging for everyone – I have hated not being able to spend as much time as I would like to with my family and friends. I know that lots of charities have really struggled to raise the money they need as well.

On the 15th May 2020 I set my self the challenge of doing 1000 sitting jumps on my trampoline without stopping! No one could believe that I was going to do this without stopping but I was determined to do it. At first I only wanted to raise £300 but by the time I had completed the challenge I had raised over £1000 for the brain tumour charity! One of the ways we managed to raise all the money was my mum streaming it via Facebook to show everybody that I was actually going to do it.

I have found that doing things that are positive and helps others helps me deal with what is happening. It is strange living with the cancer and wondering what will happen when. I worry about my grandma and how hard it is for her. I hope that the lockdown will be over soon so we can all be together properly – I know that would make a big difference. As my mum says, we have to look for pockets of sunshine.

Georgia Welsby, Age 9

 

For advice on how to talk to children about death and about cancer, visit: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/dying-with-cancer/coping-with-the-news/supporting-children/talking-to-different-age-groups

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