Having cancer is pretty awful for anyone, but having cancer when you are a Mum is really different. Mummy’s Wish helps families navigate a practical pathway through treatment to help reduce the burden and negative impact on young families.
Dry July has funded the development of a Guide For Mums With Cancer which will enable Mummy’s Wish to capture all of the valuable knowledge of our Support Coordinators, like Ali, so that our Mums can easily access information when, and in a format, that suits them. The guide will also be an invaluable resource for hospital social workers and cancer care coordinators.
You can view the Guide For Mums With Cancer here: https://mummyswish.org.au/guide-for-mums-with-cancer/
Alison is one of our dedicated Mummy’s Wish support coordinators. She used to be a nurse and decided to take on a coordinator role because it felt like such a real and direct way of helping people who need it right now.
Alison says that many of the mums that she works with simply don’t know how to ask for help and are overwhelmed by the decisions that they have to make in a short space of time.
“I don't think people know where to start looking for help – or how. Then they speak to a coordinator here, and they know we get it. We understand. We're mums ourselves and we understand some of the challenges that they're facing at the moment - some of the practical, difficult things that they're trying to sort out and deal with.
So, the family that I spoke to this morning, well, they don't even know where to start looking for childcare for a two-and-a-half-year-old. They've not needed to put the two-and-a-half-year-old into childcare but all of a sudden, you know, mum's going to be having radiotherapy and she's going to need to be at the hospital which is 30 kilometers away, for five days a week for five weeks. She can't take a two-and-a-half-year-old with her, so how's she going to find childcare? I know that I can point her in the right direction and help her through that process.”
On Christmas Eve in 2014, Renee was in hospital after an emergency appendectomy, waiting for her surgeon to discharge her. When the doctor walked into the room she and her husband knew immediately from his face that the news was going to be hard to hear.
On Christmas day, Renee had to tell her family that she had a very rare form of cancer in her appendix and that she needed to be re-admitted before the day was finished.
Renee’s children were aged four, six and eight years old. The year ahead for them was going to be confusing and upsetting. Not only was their mummy having to spend lots of time in hospital, when she was home she was too exhausted and nauseous to play with them like before.
Renee told me that she was very worried about her kids. She asked what support there was to help them process what was happening to their mum. She was given a pamphlet that guided her on how to tell her kids – but nothing practical.
I am so proud to tell you that one of my team here at Mummy’s Wish was able to step in. Renee told me that she was on her third round of chemo when she spoke with Kylie, a Mummy’s Wish support coordinator. Not only did Mummy’s Wish provide voice recordable Comfort Bears for her children to cuddle whilst she was in hospital, we also provided access to information, resources and other services that were able to help reduce the burden during Renee’s 18 month long battle with cancer.
“The bears really helped my kids. I just did a simple message like, ‘it's mummy here I'm in hospital right now, but I'll be home soon, love you!’”.
And even though she was still very unwell the following Christmas, I am delighted to tell you that here in 2018 she is no longer being supported by Mummy’s Wish as she is living cancer free.
Renee is now one of our much loved volunteers – she works tirelessly because she knows first hand how invaluable support is for mums with cancer.
"Obviously the thing I want most is a cure for cancer. I am currently cancer free but I know that there are many mums who are facing a more uncertain future.
Aside from that, I wish we (Mummy’s Wish) could help every single mum that needs us."