Wonderful friends and family
Niamh was also really worried that her friends would forget her but their families have been wonderful. We’ve all worked hard to ensure that we keep in touch. She now feels very comfortable, confident and reassured that she still has friends.
When Niamh was diagnosed with cancer, it affected our whole family. Niamh has a twin brother, Zach, and neither of them have had chickenpox. They were both off school to avoid catching it.
Her older brother Ethan has been a great help throughout Niamh’s treatment. He had a heart transplant a few years ago so had experience of hospitals. Niamh used to see him going off to hospital and coming home, so hospital trips have a big part of all of our lives in a positive way. Ethan really helped Niamh to be less worried about her trips to hospital.
We tried to make the process as child-friendly as possible – we called the tumour a ‘lump’ and we were given various books for Niamh and her brothers to read. When she asked the question ‘have I got cancer?’, we were really shocked, as we never really used that word.
Of course, we were terrified when we heard the word cancer. It’s a dreadful disease at any age, but we know more about it than Niamh does so she’s taken it all in her stride. She’s adapted very well, and at that age, your old life fades away quite quickly. She calls her scar her ‘lucky line’ as she knows it saved her life.
It’s important to be as honest as you can be about what’s happening; the children look to you to see how you are feeling so we tried to appear as normal and positive as we could be. But it’s difficult.