I am telling my story to Colleen for her to write for me. I didn’t know that anybody would want to hear what I had to say, but I was convinced that me telling it will help.
I lost my wife to breast cancer 10 years ago. We have four children at the time the youngest was 1. My wife was full of life, she was involved in the kid’s sports, football and netball. She was known in the Community as she worked at one of the local schools.
When she went to the doctor with a lump on her breast the first thought was that it was a blocked duct as she had breast fed all the kids. She went into the hospital for a biopsy and they found that it was a cancerous tumour.
She was treated with medications while we waited for her turn to get an operation. At first they were talking about removing the lump as time went by and we waited and waited the talk became losing the breast.
This caused us a lot of problems which we didn’t know how to talk about or who to talk about. She had the breast cancer mob come talk to her about options about how she should feel but nothing to help the rest of us as to how we feel.
She had her breast removed then had radical chemo therapy. She was lucky her work place helped out with a lot of things and the football club. They ran fund raisers to help us and we needed it. I had to take time off work to care for her. It’s a shame that the bills don’t stop when you can’t afford them.
After a few months she was starting to get better and then went back to work part time. We were overwhelmed with the support we got.
Then we found out she needed more surgery she the cancer was still there she had to get her glands and her other breast removed. The kids seemed to handle it well. They still had school and sports. The sports club had set up a car pool so the kids could always be picked up. This I am happy for it gave them some normalcy in their lives.
In hindsight I would have loved any opportunity for my kids to get counselling and help as they seemed fine on the top and that was all I noticed. I was too busy taking care of their mother. Our Eldest daughter was a problem she just seemed to always argue and pick on her mother. At the time I came down hard on her. Now I realise it was her way of coping. She had always had a strong mother who was always there, no suddenly she had a sick woman who could die in the house.
Nobody could help me or point me in the right direction. There is no manual on how to deal with cancer. But I wish when someone goes in that there is somebody who can tell you the different services available and how you can pay the bills. How do you deal with it yourself? How do you help your kids? How do you help you wife, husband who ever, how do you talk to them to help them?
My wife had more surgery and more radical treatment. She became weaker and weaker. I had to take a leave without pay so I could be at home with her, she couldn’t shower or go to the toilet by herself. She only got sickness benefits I was unable to get a carers pension.
The bills kept piling up, we talked about selling the house to cover the bills, and she wouldn’t let me. She said this was the kid’s home and it’s going to remain that way. She was practical too in pointing out if I sold up I would be paying rent and might never be able to own a home again. And for her that was important, she wanted them to always have somewhere safe, which she didn’t have growing up.
She was sick and this continued for about two years. The help and assistance slowly started to dry up. People think surely she has beaten it or that the treatments should have worked and that everything is all hunky dory. But it wasn’t it was getting worse the bills kept coming we chose to not take the kids out of their sports and any activity that helps them feel normal.
But the kitchen cupboards were always just about empty, no luxuries, as some of the things we had to buy for the wife cost a lot. She couldn’t use soap so we had to buy expensive stuff. But that was the sacrifice we made.
I would like it if an organisation was there to help pay the bills, give food hampers. What I mean with the bills is to help with the medical costs. Let’s not waste money on footballers put that money into a fund for desperate families with high medical bills, so that they can get some help.
Ronald McDonald did nothing for me and I used to watch on the TV families who had home make overs, or holidays. We didn’t get that.
I guess I sound angry but I’m not anymore. My wife died. The kids and I had to keep on but I wouldn’t want any family to go through the struggle and burden we went through. It’s enough to break up a family and we had no help. No one to help us understand. Someone putting their arm around your shoulder at the hospital is nothing, I needed more I needed to understand how this worked or how that would operate. But I was left out of the loop. I know I couldn’t change the outcome but I would have been better informed.
Now my eldest is being told that she and her sisters should have been checked for the gene for some kind of breast cancer. Why is she being told this now that she is in her twenties, married and trying for kids? Shouldn’t someone have told us years ago? Now she is being told that she could pass the gene down to her children. That’s something you don’t need. Something that should have been spoken of beforehand so that she would have known in advance. So the wheel continues to turn and she is talking about doing an Angelina Jolie. What a life to pass on to your kids.