Concern over parents living with cancer

Web hazel orr, with her partner paul and daughter holly

Macmillan wants to ensure those living with the illness seek support

25th September 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Around one hundred thousand mums in Scotland are living with cancer according to new estimates released by Macmillan Cancer Support.

This figure includes 14,000 women who have young or teenage children.

Ahead of its World’s Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event on Friday 29 September, Macmillan is looking to raise awareness of the challenges that parents with cancer could be facing and urge them to get help.

The charity is concerned that parents across the UK are grappling with a range of issues that include breaking the news of their cancer to their children, being apart from them while they have treatment, and needing to pay extra childcare costs.

The charity’s analysis of a survey of more than 2,000 people living with cancer in the UK found that around four in five people (79%) living with cancer in Scotland are parents and that 14,000 mums and around 6,000 dads with cancer in Scotland have young or teenage children.

Macmillan wants parents with cancer to get in touch and is urging people to find a coffee morning event nearby to get involved in, to help fund its vital services.

Mum-of-one Hazel Orr, 50, from East Calder, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

“It was a bit of a shock as there was no history in our family,” she said. “Our Macmillan breast cancer nurse advised me and my partner Paul to be as open and honest as we could with our daughter Holly, who was 10 at the time. She said that if we didn’t tell her things, she would imagine them to be much worse.

“We sat her down and said: ‘Have you heard about cancer?’ She got a bit upset as she knew what was coming. After we explained everything, she turned to me and said: ‘Are you going to live?’ She could have been more negative; she could have said are you going to die?”

Hazel said having a young daughter to think about meant she couldn’t just retreat into herself.

“I couldn’t just focus on me and feel sorry for myself,” she says. "I had to focus on the family and carry on with daily life for them and particularly for Holly.”

The money raised from the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning will help Macmillan provide a range of services to those with cancer, including parents. The charity provides Macmillan nurses and professionals who can offer practical and emotional support, as well as information on how to communicate with children about cancer.