Thomas was just one when he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. His mum Vicky shares how their family’s world came crashing down with the cancer diagnosis, alongside coping with the financial pressures of cancer costs.
“You see it on Facebook and Instagram, people’s kids have cancer and you like their picture, you send a nice comment and you think about them but you never think that it’s going to happen to you, it’s always someone else it happens to or so and so’s friend, it’s never actually you.
“When Thomas was diagnosed I went a bit numb and it was just like my world came crashing down. I was scared, I had every single thought running through my mind.
“My initial thought was ‘I’m going to lose my baby’. You never expect it to happen to you until it does and then all of a sudden you’re thrust into this world you didn’t really even know existed, it’s this crazy oncology world and it’s mad.
“I would always just tell Thomas ‘It’s ok, we just need to do this and then we can have a cuddle’.
“We didn’t qualify for any universal credit or housing benefit or council tax benefit, we didn’t qualify for anything but my wages paid the bills and we had a little bit left over but the financial impact of going to hospital and especially going to London, that’s where our Young Lives vs Cancer social worker, Clare, sorted things out for us and got us access to grants. She would always check in to make sure we were coping financially.
“She was so supportive at just being there and just letting us talk as well. Being on the other end of the phone that’s just what you needed, that support. She’s just been incredible. I don’t think we would have got through it as well if it wasn’t for that support that we had from Clare.
“It was hard, we had to cut back on so much. Without the charity’s help, we would not have survived at all.
“Our main cancer costs were for fuel and parking and food in hospital – especially paying out for food for two adults in hospital, particularly when we were in London for treatment. You couldn’t make yourself anything to eat. So that was quite difficult, we were like ‘how are we going to eat?’.
“It is the fuel, parking, the food, the extra clothes that we needed to buy for Thomas because he lost weight and none of his clothes fit him so we had to go buy him clothes and then we needed extra nappies because when he was on chemo and after chemo wee’d like anything. All the little things that you don’t think of add up to a very big thing.
“The bills still have to be paid and I still had to make sure that my daughter and Thomas’s sister Ellie had money to get to school and there was food in the house for Ellie, to make sure that her life wasn’t impacted as well.
“I suffer from a lot of anxiety now, a lot more than I did before. I find it a bit surreal what’s happened. Kind of like an out of body experience – you sit and you think ‘did that actually happen? Have I actually just been through that?’ because when you’re living it, you’re going through the motions and you’re doing it on auto-pilot.
“There’s such a range of emotions, you think you’re ok and you’re coping ok and then it will just hit you like a tonne of bricks. It hits you at first that initial shock of your child’s got cancer and you just go through the motions and then when it’s settled down and you relax a little bit, that’s when it really hit me. At the end I was like ‘have we really just been through that?’. Our lives will just never ever, ever be the same again.”
Posted on Tuesday 1 November 2022