Tenovus Cancer Care wants to be there for cancer patients and their loved ones when we are needed. Every pound and penny raised goes towards this.
Ginny didn’t have anyone at home that she could talk openly with about her diagnosis and treatment. She had concerns for her daughter’s future and questions that needed answering. Ginny called our Support Line and through regular contact it gave her answers and moments to reflect.
“I was being treated for fibroids which required a radical hysterectomy and it was only through the pathology notes after the operation that I discovered I had cancer. I had no idea beforehand and despite the symptoms it was a huge shock. At first I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and then it was changed to stage three carcinosarcoma.
I was added to a waiting list to have a scan and I got into a terrible anxious mess over it all.
Things weren’t happening quickly so I borrowed some money to have a CT scan done privately in Newport. There were no obvious signs that the cancer had spread which was a huge relief but those months had been the worst time of my life.
The hospital team were so kind, and the radiologist told me that I’d been very lucky. I didn’t think I’d been that lucky at all but I took it as a sign that I had a chance of getting through this. It was around that point that I thought I could probably benefit from talking with someone about the situation.
I have a 15 year old daughter but I couldn’t talk to her with a complete feeling of freedom because it would have been too much for her. Although she does love my honesty!
I didn’t really have anyone close by. My mother passed away ten years ago, my brother was very supportive but lives near Ludlow and my sister hadn’t been very well herself, so it was great to find information about Tenovus Cancer Care’s Support Line.
I started speaking to a nurse called Elaine. After I’d made the initial call, Elaine would phone me every two or three weeks. She was incredible, and lovely to talk to. I was keen to know how I would feel with all the different types of treatment. I felt like I was having the book thrown at me and didn’t know what to expect but Elaine was very knowledgeable.
I felt like our calls were a moment to sit down and reflect on where I was going and what I’d been through, and what was normal and not normal about it all. We also talked an awful lot about nature because we both have that interest in common! Using the Support Line allowed me to be open and reflect without putting any burden on my daughter.”
Kevin’s wife was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer five years after being given the all clear from her first diagnosis. Kevin picked up a leaflet for our Support Line at the hospital and although Karen’s sadly since passed away, he has somewhere to turn whenever he needs emotional support.
“In 2015 Karen developed secondary breast cancer after she’d been given the all clear from a diagnosis five years before. A consultant oncologist at Velindre told us that the cancer had metastasized to Karen’s spine, a terminal diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer.
“When her health deteriorated, Karen received palliative care at home until she died in November 2019. Losing her felt like someone was sitting on my chest. My life went from being unbearably busy to almost nothing and that really affected me.
“I picked up a leaflet for Tenovus Cancer Care’s Support Line. I called and spoke to a lovely nurse called Elaine who I’ve been in contact with ever since.
“I had my uncle and auntie to speak to but I was caring for Karen on my own. The Support Line meant I was able to have my questions answered, and being openly asked about my own thoughts and feelings was really comforting.”
Meet Amy and Jack
Amy and Jack were living in Australia when Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After returning to the UK to be closer to family, Jack suffered a stroke and faced a two year wait before receiving any financial support.
“We were living in Australia when Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2016. He never usually complained about aches and pains but had been suffering with heart burn and testicle pain that he wanted checked. The doctor thought he had testicular torsion and we were sent away with some tablets to ease the pain.
“It continued over the next few weeks and one evening I found Jack on the bathroom floor. He’d been sick, had a headache and was feeling sensitive to light. A scan revealed he had a brain tumour but we’d been so focused on the testicle pain that it hit us like a tonne of bricks.
“A few months after Jack’s first surgery we found out I was pregnant with our little boy, Jaxon. It was a surprise for us, and at a difficult time, but we were determined to take it on and become parents so we moved back to the UK to have my mum and family around.
“After the move, Jack was being monitored by a new medical team in Cardiff who were waiting for signs that the tumour had started to grow before going ahead with another operation. His second surgery resulted in a stroke that left him unable to speak and paralysed down his right side.
“Incredibly Jack has to be awake during these procedures. The medical team want to remove as much of the tumour as possible each time so they ask him to respond while mapping out the affected area to make sure they aren’t taking away healthy brain tissue. Of course there are always risks associated with this kind of operation and it was sheer bad luck for us.
“I remember thinking that when Jack was diagnosed and being tested that we were in the thick of it, it couldn’t get any worse. I realise now that this journey is about surviving more and more difficulties. We’re in a cycle of treatment, surgery and rehabilitation that restarts each time the tumour grows.
“Some days are better than others. There are times I just want to sit and cry to myself quietly and others where I know the importance of pulling myself up and getting on with it for our family. Jack’s biggest fear was losing the ability to walk and talk; that’s been so hard for us.
“Jack’s determination and focus has been amazing though. He was told that as soon as he could walk up the stairs he could go home so he did it within seven days of having the stroke. But unfortunately his life expectancy has changed as the tumour has progressed, meaning he might not see Jaxon go to school. It’s heart breaking.
“Because we’d been living in Australia for three years we weren’t entitled to personal independence payments. We tried to find help anywhere we could within the system but were turned away and told to reapply after being back in the UK for two years.
“Jack was midway through radiotherapy treatment when we were able to apply again. By that point we needed any help we could get and were lucky enough to be put in touch with a Tenovus Cancer Care Benefits Advisor. They were able to tell us exactly what benefits and support we were entitled to.
“The applications are never straight forward and can be very time consuming. It was difficult for me to focus on anything while Jack was going through treatment and I was taking care of Jaxon. Tenovus Cancer Care took the weight off my shoulders, completing the applications for us.
“We would have really struggled to make ends meet without their help. Travelling for medical appointments five days a week, increased fuel costs and being at home more was heavily impacting our lives and finances. We felt isolated for so long and we can’t thank them enough for their support.”