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Reflecting on cancer's cruelty: 'Life was set to be a scary and surreal place'

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Caitlin Cone-Hoskins
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« on: February 07, 2016, 06:06:00 pm »

Reflecting on cancer's cruelty: 'Life was set to be a scary and surreal place'

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: February 07, 2016
Reflecting on cancer's cruelty: 'Life was set to be a scary and surreal place'

Carly Squires

AT the age of nine, I heard the most traumatising and life-changing sentence – one that no child should really ever have to hear.

My siblings and I had spent the evening sharing our parents’ bed, which wasn't a usual occurrence, but were awoken deep into the night.

My father, pale from exhaustion, bravely told us: “I’m afraid Mummy has died.”

Sat stiff and coldly alongside my brother and my sister I didn’t really know what that meant. I couldn’t find a reason to cry, but subconsciously acknowledged that life was now set to be a scary and surreal place.

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Caitlin Cone-Hoskins
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Posts: 3653

« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2016, 06:07:43 pm »

Today marks World Cancer Day, a global event that unites the world against cancer, acknowledging the 8.2 million people that die from this cruel disease worldwide each year.

My beautiful, intelligent and hilarious mother passed away in June 1997 from brain cancer.

What she went through is unimaginable. Having to face her own demise while realising that she will never watch her children grow up - let alone suffering the physical and crippling pain of everyday life.

However, she wasn't the only victim at the time of her death. My Grandmother, her mother, never truly smiled again after losing her only daughter.

My father lost his wife, the mother of his children, and immediately had to adapt to bringing up three children alongside handling his own heartbreaking grief.

It is also hardly surprising to learn that adults bereaved of a parent in childhood are more vulnerable than the general population to psychiatric disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. Personally, I can vouch for this.

However, you will rarely hear about those left behind, who can often shelve their own feelings as a lesser priority - deciding that any suffering they have endured cannot compare. Speaking openly often results in feelings of guilt and shame.

This doesn’t help when indirect victims of cancer are made to feel selfish or as ‘attention seekers’ for speaking out about the sadness they have and continue to feel. This is ultimately problematic and only adds to any negative feelings they already experience.

Now, at the age of 27, losing my mother to cancer is just as painful now as it was 19 years ago, but I’ve always had the luxury of an open father who was willing to talk. However, more often than not, when people ask me about my parents or my mother, I’ll often play along to avoid embarrassment.

But surely talking about cancer and it’s lasting effects is integral - where has this embarrassment come from?

So as much as World Cancer Awareness Day is important for encouraging people to donate to support those diagnosed, it is also for those that spend long, hard weeks, months and years caring for their lovers, parents or children and for the heartbroken that are left behind.

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