About this blog

About this blog

Abbie is mother to Bella-Rose, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was three. Abbie is training as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist for the NHS. Blogs written by Abbie

  • Patient Name: Bella-Rose
  • Cancer Type: Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • Age when diagnosed: 3

My struggle with PTSD following my child’s cancer treatment

22nd May 2020

My world was full of uncertainty

When we hear the word ‘cancer’, it’s hard not to feel emotions such as loss and sadness. So when your child is diagnosed with cancer you can certainly experience a whole host of emotions as well as many mental health difficulties. When my daughter, Bella-Rose, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, I was in shock for weeks and didn’t sleep. I was on auto pilot like many parents, just going through the process, suddenly having my life thrown upside down and watching my baby fight for her life. I wasn’t sleeping, living in hospital, and my world was full of uncertainty.

Time to start processing what had happened

Many parents like me find that it’s after their child is able to come home after treatment finishes that they have time to actually sit and think about what has happened to them and the journey they have been on. Certainly for me, when we returned home my mental health really started to suffer. When Bella came back home after three years, I literally went to pieces. Probably because I was allowed to, I didn’t need to be this robot in hospital, fetching things, administering medicines, turning off those bleeping machines, waiting up all night for the blood transfusions that were so desperately needed. I had time to start processing what had happened and think about how I actually felt. I suffered with depression and anxiety and I would cry a lot. I was so angry at what had happened to my baby and angry at life and with God.

PTSD affects a lot of people

After a while I was still struggling and developed what’s known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I would have nightmares and flashbacks and such intense anxiety, it was awful. PTSD affects a lot of people that have been through traumatic events but it is treatable. So after years of therapy, lots of tears and talking about how I feel, my PTSD has gone and I feel a lot better. I still take anti-depressants for my anxiety and I might always need to, but that’s okay. Because, having to watch what my daughter went through was horrific and it broke my heart.

Want to help others

But I won’t let it define me anymore. I take each day as it comes with a smile. I think this is why I work in the field that I do. I am currently training as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist for the NHS. I want to be able to help others who are experiencing mental health difficulties to help them feel better. Mental health is so precious and there’s lots of little things we can do for ourselves to help if we are having a bad day. My advice would be to always talk to someone about how you are feeling, you are not alone. Also, mindfulness is an amazing tool you can use and practise. It can help with a whole host of feelings like low mood, anxiety, sadness and anger.
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