Tips and Stories

Interested in writing a Tips and Stories post? Contact us HERE with your ideas!

My Cancer journey with my mum


It was October 2011. I was 14 years old when I found out my mum had cancer.


Mum had been having chest pains for a while and decided to go to the doctors to check it out. After lots of test and scans they discovered she had a cancerous tumour on her heart.


My parents sat my sister and me and down in our living room and told us the news. My first reaction was that ‘My mum is going to die’. It’s hard to explain how I felt. Instantly I was overcome with a mix of sadness, heartbreak and numbness. I didn’t know what to do but hug my mum. I just held her for what seemed like forever.


My life changed quickly after the news. Knowing my schooling would be affected in some way, my parents wrote a letter to my teacher so she knew what was happening. My teacher burst into tears at the news. That was the reaction of most of the adults that found out. When I told my friends they were speechless and didn’t know what to say to me but they always made sure I was okay, helping me catch up on my homework. I also started seeing the school counsellor on a regular basis. Things had changed at school, and when I’d walk around school I felt like everyone was looking at me because of what was happening, yet no one would say anything.


It was hard but I was lucky because my family were so supportive and caring. We all came together to help mum out. My grandma and aunty came over to help and teach us how to do things mum would do around the house. My mum used to do all the housework by herself so it was nice being able to help her in some way.  


Just having people around and there for us was amazing. I loved how we all came together to support one another. From my family coming to help around the house, to my friends checking up on me making sure I was alright meant so much to me.


I know people meant well but some of the things they said to help me through it actually did the opposite. I hated hearing from people was that “It’ll all be okay” or “I understand what you’re going through”. It was always hearing the second one that really annoyed me. Although it was great to have the support of family and friends, to me, no one could ever understand what I was going through and it turned out things weren’t going to be okay.


Mum passed away February 2012. It was the same day as the anniversary of the Canterbury Earthquake and also my parent’s 21st wedding anniversary; a date I won’t forget. It was a weird feeling when she passed away. I was sad yes, but more than that I felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. All the worry and stress was suddenly lifted as there was nothing more we could do for her now.


This didn’t prepare me though for actually seeing my mum and I began to think of all the good times that we had together. Some of my best memories would be us going on road trips and when we moved a couple of times. Packing up the car with all the family and going to see new places was always fun because it was just us. My mum was the best person I have ever known. She was kind, loving and always encouraged me in anything I did. I miss her every day.


It’s been hard since she passed away and lots of things have changed. The hardest part has definitely been my Dad moving on and remarrying. My home life changed lots from losing someone so important in my life to now gaining a new unfamiliar one. My sister and I chose to move out and I lived with my boyfriend and she lived at a best friend’s family. We now live together in a new flatting situation. It is really nice to be back with her again. Our relationship with our Dad is more distant now and our family isn’t what it used to be since.


I never felt like anyone could truly understand what I felt or what I had been through and didn’t really know of anywhere that would. It was by chance that I met this girl called Heather through Twitter, who told me all about CanTeen and said that I should join them. Her mum also passed away from cancer and she told me how CanTeen had helped her.  I decided from what she shared that it was something I should definitely get involved with.


Since joining CanTeen I’ve found a place that I can talk about my experience and relate to other people similar to my age. I’ve found people who’ve been through similar situations and people who can actually understand what I’ve been through; something I thought wasn’t possible.


My life has changed lots since my mum passed away and if I were to give advice to my younger self it would be that there is help out there. Don’t think you have to go through it alone because you don’t have to. There are people and organisations like CanTeen to support you; giving you the space to share your thoughts, feelings and your life, and the opportunity to meet people to encourage you when you’re down.