Sharon, whose daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer, now supports other mums going through the same thing.
I was on holiday in Florida when my daughter Katie told me she had found a lump.
She’d had some tests already and had been called back. I flew home overnight and we went straight to the hospital appointment. That’s when they told us it was breast cancer.
I didn’t know how much help to give
I didn’t have time to think. Katie had a nine-month-old baby and a four-year-old at the time, so it was all hands on deck.
I used to go there for the day and help with looking after the children, washing and cooking. But as a mum it’s difficult to know how much to do. I didn’t know if I should be taking over or giving them space. Who wants their mum there all day? But afterwards, I’d sit outside in my car thinking, ‘How can I leave?’
I felt helpless as a mum
Watching someone you love go through treatment is horrendous. Chemotherapy made Katie really ill. Most of her hair fell out. Normally mums make things better, but there was nothing I could do. You feel helpless.
You need someone to talk to
As a family, it’s not always easy to talk to each other because you don’t want to upset anybody. You need to talk to someone on the outside. But I couldn’t talk to any of my friends because no one had ever been in this situation.
My daughter joined every social media group possible and talked to other women online for support.
When she finished treatment, she held a ball for Breast Cancer Care and raised £48,000. We came into the office to hand in the cheque and when she saw the Helpline she said, ‘I called here so many times and spoke to so many people!’
I thought, ‘Did you?’ I didn’t even know there was a Helpline. I wouldn’t have thought of calling it. I could see how important it was for her, but mums don’t realise there’s help for them. The Helpline is there for parents, friends and family as well as those diagnosed.
I decided to volunteer for Breast Cancer Care
I wanted to give something back and to help other mums.
I became a Someone Like Me volunteer three years ago, and since then I’ve spoken to so many mothers looking for support.
When they first call they’re often scared. I talk them through their concerns and tell them they’re going to get through it. By the end of the call I can tell they’ve relaxed a bit and they say, ‘You’ve made me feel so much better.’ That for me is so worthwhile. It’s given me peace.
I would tell anyone supporting someone with breast cancer to talk about it. I wish I’d had someone to talk to who understood. Everyone needs a little bit of support, even mums.
If a loved one is facing primary breast cancer, talking to someone who’s been there can really help. Find out more about Someone Like Me.