The lovely Cameron family were featured on BBC Children in Need on Friday 15 November 2019. Their film shows how important the support we provide for families is when a parent is facing an advanced cancer diagnosis.
Actor David Tennant, visited Maggie’s Edinburgh for the first time to hear how funding from Children in Need has helped families like theirs.
A cancer diagnosis can have a profound effect on young children. Parents can struggle to explain what cancer means to their child, and the child sensing something is wrong, can become anxious and distressed. With active imaginations, children can imagine the worst.
Thanks to vital funding from Children in Need, we’ve developed a unique series of Kids’ Days in Scotland and five of our centres in England, to offer essential support through the most difficult of times.
The Dr Who star heard how Maggie’s supported Duncan and his two daughters 15 year old Isla and 12 year old Eleanor, through the diagnosis and death of their wife and mum, Helen.
It was wonderful to meet David and tell him a little of our story and how we have been supported throughout by Maggie’s.
He was a real gent, incredibly sensitive and just fantastic with the girls, but our motivation for taking part was to help raise awareness of the extraordinary support on offer at Maggie’s.
We have been regular visitors for 10 years and we don’t know how we would have managed without them.
Having found a lump in her breast when her youngest daughter, Eleanor, was just 18 months-old, Helen was determined her whole family would have somewhere to go for support.
During the first couple of years of treatment Maggie’s became a second home for the young family as they all popped in for support around Helen’s hospital appointments.
When Helen was told the treatment had stopped working the family needed support to help the girls understand what was happening to their mum.
They had one-to-one support from our Cancer Support Specialists and went to one of our Kids’ Days which are designed to help children gain a better understanding of cancer and what happens to a parent or sibling undergoing treatment. It’s also a chance for them to express their emotions and to be given psychological support where needed.
I remember going over to the hospital and putting a teddy through the MRI scanner.
Then we came back to Maggie’s to draw and talk with other kids in the same position. Maggie’s is like my second home.
Of her one-to-one sessions with Maggie’s Edinburgh Centre Head Andrew Anderson, Isla said:
I know I could just go bleugh with Andy and tell him everything that was on my mind. I knew he would understand and listen.
Two years since the death of their beloved wife and mum, Duncan and the girls still visit Maggie’s Edinburgh. They spend time in the centre together, but also all speak to Andrew and other staff individually, talking about Helen and their grief, but also what’s happening at school and how their lives are moving forward.
We all miss Helen hugely, but life has to move on and Maggie’s has massively helped us to move through the sadness to find a place where we can move forward, where we can be positive about the future.
I can’t thank the staff at Maggie’s Edinburgh enough.
What happens at a Kids’ Day?
Our Kids and Teen Days are for children and teenagers with a parent, family member or carer who has cancer.
We aim to help young people understand a bit more about cancer and to provide an opportunity to explore and make sense of the feelings they may have as they live with cancer in their family.
The day begins with a visit the hospital to see how a CT scan works, how radiotherapy and chemotherapy is given, and a chance to meet the healthcare team.
An art and craft session gives young people the chance to explore feelings and thoughts about the day’s events, and about what’s going on within their families.
It all helps them to understand what might be going on during their parent’s treatment and makes the hospital seem much less scary.
Get family support at Maggie’s
Please get in touch with your local centre to ask them about the support they offer to families. Find your nearest centre.