After my diagnosis of breast cancer in April 2013, my main anxiety was how my family would continue to function when I was sick. Who would take them to school, cook the meals, do the washing, clean the house? Of course my husband did it all, and did it with amazing levels of patience and understanding. Friends and family stepped in to help, and life remained relatively normal.
The support I received from Alison of Mummy’s Wish made all the difference. I now had a housekeeping service for the months of my treatment - the lovely Gail came every 3 weeks and made my house clean and shiny. Alison contacted me regularly to see how I was going. The Mummy’s Wish gift bag I received contained some very practical items (plus some treats!) and of course the recordable teddy bears that my children still take to bed each night, pressing the bear and hearing my voice telling them that I love them. The loan of an ipad meant that I could contact my family when I was in hospital, at home sick in bed, and it kept me distracted during long waits at the many, many medical appointments.
Mummy’s Wish is unique in its support of mums with young children, and gives the practical assistance we need. What an amazing organisation
Friends of mine worked in an oncology department, and they suggested a group called Mummys Wish. I was told they helped mums with cancer and with children. Halle was 17 months old and Cooper 5 years. I said there are lots of other people who need their help more than me. I felt I had a great network of support and financially ok to deal with what lay ahead. I was wrong. I wasn't working and we had some money saved to renovate the bathroom, so it got used up for the medical bills. I was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme Brain tumour so I was left initially with a deficit that required the bathrooms still to be done due to my condition. The scan came back after the initial treatment and the tumour appeared clear at that stage. That's when the network seemed to disappear as Brain Cancer patients don't quite fit the image of other Cancer - you look alright! Financially we struggled and we had to borrow money to just live day to day.
When my daughter was born we had some lovely photos and planned that when she was a bit older to have family photographs taken. I was scared of what lie ahead, reading the life expectancy of what I had and wanting family photos taken before I started the high dose chemo. I had a "comb over" and my hair looked nearly normal after finishing the radiotherapy, but I wasn't sure how it would end up. I was swollen in the face from the dexamethasone but I desperately wanted the photos but couldn't afford them. I wanted a memento for my children.
Whilst playing the waiting game in the specialist room I saw the brochure again and read that Mummy's Wish could help with family photographs. I checked the website. I spoke with my husband and I made the call.
Kylie rang me to have a chat and discuss briefly about what I was needing, and an appointment was made to meet over a cuppa to have a chat and talk about what Mummys Wish do and how they could assist me. Kylie arrived and we chatted for ages and we discussed many things. The foundations of Mummy's Wish, their purpose and that they were very happy to make my wish come true. She listened to me, sat with me and it was like she was holding out the hand of support that had started to slip away. But is wasn't only me that Kylie brought comfort to. My children received the recordable bears each, which I recorded personal messages and now 14 months on, they love even more. A tote bag with goodies was also given to brighten my day and I knew they were trying to help me. Kylie was giving me more than just photos, she was giving me light in time of darkness.
I had my beautiful photos taken by a photographer who generously gave her services freely and Mummys Wish paid for a collection that proudly sit on my wall. The day of the photos was a disaster. Meeting at 5pm with children at the beach, wearing white and a windy day, don't tie in with young children getting grizzly, damp sand and the "comb over" flapping and yet a few great photos resulted. She had to work hard for those pictures I am sure.
One of the things I admire most was the staff at Mummy's Wish don't forget you and the range of services and avenues in the way they assist or shed some happiness in difficult time. One day unexpectantly I received a call from Kylie to offer me 4 tickets to a show. I took my mother, niece who was 9 and my sister in law and it was the first time it had been just us out for a night. I will never forget how much my Neice enjoyed the the show, we all did. I felt that whilst some friends may not call, i was remembered.
Other than my family and friends the things that I am passionate about is raising awareness and funds for Brain Cancer and Mummy's Wish. It has been 16 months now since first diagnosed, and I have past the average survival of 12 - 14 months. I joke and say I was always above average at school, but these ladies at Mummy's wish are the A grade students.
I was fortunate to receive support from Mummy’s wish. I was granted a “gift bag” that included a teddy bear that you can record your own message on.
I have found the teddy bear a wonderful gift. My son and I leave little messages for each other through the bear.
The other kind gift was a photo session with a photographer. This allowed my family to have some lovely portraits taken that we can treasure and share with family and friends. I had to wear a wig but the overall feel of the photo is of a happy family. These photos will be treasured for years to come. I have included one of my favourites.
When I contacted Mummy’s wish originally (last year) it was in fact to see if I could find some transport to hospital and doctor appointments. I was provided with information about ambulance transport and also supplied with a taxi card. This was invaluable as at the time I could not drive. It saw me through until my foot healed and I could drive again.
In late 2011, Rebecca Weeding married the love of her life, Robert, with their two gorgeous children Maddy 7 and Cohan 2 by their side. She was 25 years old.
Two months later, in January 2012, Rebecca was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a slow growing 7.5 cm inoperable stage two brain-swelling tumor, a malignant cancer. Incredibly, Rebecca didn't feel sick and the enormity of her diagnosis didn't quite register until she told her family and friends. Telling her dad and her 7-year-old daughter, Maddy, were the hardest.
The doctors told Rebecca the tumour had been growing in her brain for the last 10 years, and was most likely the cause of her constant headaches and blurred vision.
Rebecca immediately began treatment at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, 5 times a week for 3 months. She was put on a steroid to try to reduce the swelling in her brain. The steroid combined with radiation and a biopsy on her brain has had terrible side effects. She lost all of her hair, her weight doubled and even now Rebecca suffers severe memory loss and seizures.
All this considered, it is the little things that Rebecca found the hardest - not being able to drive her children to school, not being allowed to be left alone with her children (in case of a seizure), not being able to zip out to the shops to pick up bread and milk, not being able to bend down to give her young children a cuddle or get down on the floor to change her young son’s nappy. Rebecca felt completely out of control of every aspect of her life.
Rebecca required so much support during her treatment that her whole family moved in with Rebecca’s parents. Rebecca describes Robert, her husband, as her rock.
Rebecca and Robert tried their best to shield their kids from the turmoil, and tried to live as normally as possible throughout Rebecca’s treatment, opting to have night time radiation. Each day’s goal was to remain as normal as possible, spending the afternoons and evenings in their usual dinner, bath, bed routine. Only after the kids were tucked snuggly in their beds with Rebecca’s parents minding the children would Robert drive Rebecca the 30 minutes to Brisbane’s Mater hospital for her treatment. Robert then fronted for work every morning at 7 am.
During the course of Rebecca’s treatment she fell into a deep depression. It was during this time that Rebecca met Kylie Phillips, Mummy’s Wish Mums' Support Worker. “Kylie met me at hospital and was just so kind and understanding, she provided me with a goodie bag that contained so much valuable information in it, and the voice-recordable teddy bear was great” Rebecca said. “I sang songs to my children via this bear”.
Mummy’s Wish also provided a $500 Eftpos card that helped with the increased fuel costs of driving to her appointments each night for her treatment.
Amazingly, in the middle of all of this, Rebecca was scheduled to give blood, however, wasn't allowed to (or will ever be again). Instead, she raised over $20,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation!
Rebecca has now finished her radiation treatment, and thankfully her tumour has reduced in size to 6 cm. She is hopeful it will keep shrinking. The past year has made her realise many things - that life is too short, to always be positive, to be grateful for her family and to mend relationships.
It is a waiting game for Rebecca and her family now. The doctors are very positive for Rebeccca, the cancer cells have all been killed by the radiation. They will check that the cancer hasn't returned in a scheduled MRI in November 2012.
Rebecca is a huge supporter of Mummy’s Wish and the work they do helping mums with cancer.
"After 7 miscarriages, I was being monitored very carefully when I fell pregnant in early 2008. 12 weeks into my pregnancy, my og/gyn found an unexpected lump next to my navel. I was fit and healthy and cancer was the last thing I expected. Unfortunately, it grew rapidly and within 6 weeks, had me totally incapacitated - barely able to walk, unable to eat, and with no choice but to undergo chemotherapy straight away. Any delay would have meant a bad outcome for my baby and for me. I spent almost 7 months in hospital, leaving my 3-year-old daughter at home, which was heart breaking."
During my lengthy stay, I was blessed to be visited by Bernadette in my hospital room and to hear of the charity she was just setting up. I was one of the early recipients of a goodie bag- a treasure trove of things to pamper me and special treats for my daughter when she came to visit. At the time, I didn't know anyone else who had gone through chemo while pregnant and it was such a comfort to meet one who had walked the same path and produced a healthy child in spite of it all.
My story has a happy ending so far - my baby was totally protected from harm and weighed in at 3.2 kg when induced at 34 weeks! I am still in remission almost 3 years later and my memories of that very long hospital stay fade into the distance, but the companionship and example of others who had walked the path with hope will stay with me forever. Thank you, Mummy's Wish!"