Grandparents of children with cancer: “I would never want to go through it again”

Grandmother and Granddaughter together.Vivienne and Alyssa.

Cancer is something that affects the whole family, and Vivienne describes how she also had to be there to support her daughter extremely. “I had a lot of phone calls with Angela- she is my daughter and I to be able to help as there was so much to deal with. Sometimes I would just listen to help her juggle everything.”

While Alyssa was receiving treatment, Vivienne obligated sure she was also able to attend regular appointments with Alyssa and Angela. “I liked that as I felt like I was helping and checking we got all the information and inviting the questions we needed to. And we were so lucky as the meetings were positive and she was responding well.

“She is doing so well now, and I know she has been so happy to help raise awareness to help others too.

“Some of the recognitions are so vivid still, but I do feel we have moved away from it a bit. I would never want to go through it again.”

Liz: “Life is not fair”

Liz and Danny, Granny and Grandpa to Hamish, who sadly passed away in 2017.

Liz and Danny with Hamish and Lily.

Liz and Danny with Hamish and Lily.

“Back in 2011, Susan and Sam were just starting life with Hamish and Lily and they were building their family. When Hamish was diagnosed when he was two, their life was turned upside down, ” says Liz.

Hamish was immediately sent to Glasgow for care. Lily, Hamish’s sister, went to stay with Liz and Danny.

“Susan and Sam did not really come home for 18 months. Lily went to join them down in Glasgow after a few months, and she even started institution down there.”

While the family stayed in Glasgow, Liz and Danny were able to visit, and seldom took Lily away for short breaks, “but it was such an unsettling duration for everyone”.

When the family did return home, we experienced them every day, helping out in whatever mode possible. “We were doing what we could but there was a feeling of helplessness more. We were having to watch what it was doing to all the family. As a parent, you devote your life trying to fix things for their own children, or sorting things out, but this is not something we are also able fix.”

And the family was rocked again in 2015, when Hamish’s mum Susan was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer.

“We looked them every day and were around to do whatever to help Susan and Sam- everyone was so determined to keep things as normal as possible, for both Hamish and Lily, ” says Liz. “But it was so hard to see. You want to protect your family and it was so horrible.

“Susan had just finished her care when Hamish was re-diagnosed with another type of cancer DIPG in 2016. We always had always a gleaming of hope that there would be a breakthrough to medicine him. Nonetheless, he passed away in 2017 when he was just eight, and you could see the impact it had on everyone- it was just heart-breaking. “

“Hamish was such an forceful lovely soul and everyone in the town knew him, ” says Liz.

Since Hamish died, the family and regional community have been busy fundraising for #TeamHamish and working hard to enhance the beautiful Ties area in Nairn creating a waterside park in in his remember, located in Hamish’s hometown.

“It has given us all something positive to focus on in this dreadful situation and we are here for Lily more, who is such a wonderful teenager now.”

Susan was also re-diagnosed and had more treatment for her breast cancer, but sadly she died earlier this year.

“It has all been so horrible again and paroles can’t express how we feel about losing her extremely.

“I know how passionate she was about the #TeamHamish projection and it’s more important than ever now to complete it. It is going to be a gift to them both.”

David: “The totality know-how must surely spawned me a lot more emotional.”

David’s grandson Evan was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma as a newborn baby in 2011.

David with Grandson, Evan, who was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma as a newborn baby in 2011.

David was on an Army tour in Afghanistan when Evan was born.

“I was in a meeting and someone came in to say that it has just been on British Forces Radio that I was a

grandad, ” says David. “I croaked directly to a secure line and I phoned dwelling to speak to my wife Maureen, who told me more about Evan being born.”

But when David rang again later that night, the feeling had fully converted. “She was in shock and said, “he’s got cancer”. I had been rebounding before I called and then suddenly season suffer still.”

David remained in Afghanistan, but after sleepless lights and constant obses he knew he needed to go home. “I felt so much love for a pee-pee person I had never seen. I felt so separated but closer together. I was due to finish my expedition several weeks later and so I was given merciful leave and packed up, ” he says.

David became straight to see Evan from international airports. “It was so good to see Evan, but I was also aware of not wanting to intrude. And I felt guilty- I felt guilty for being healthy, and for not being there when I was needed.

“My mind went to what I could do to help- how could I facilitate financially or support them in any way I could.”

Evan went to Manchester for his action, and David and Maureen were kept up to date. “They sent a photo of him with a big scar on his belly, but he had such a cheery smile on his face- it gave me so much better hope.”

David’s advice for homes going through a same contend would be not to Google things. “There’s so much out there that can terrify you, ” he says. “So much that is false and frightening to see”.

Evan recovered and his family were able to watch him grow up into a healthy child. “As time went on, he became such a tempestuous pee-pee fellow and we were able to have some naturalnes, with having him overnight, or going on trips.”

Looking back, David admits that there are times he forgets, which can unexpectedly come hastening back. “I forgot that he had sepsis twice- I don’t know how I don’t remember that but maybe it’s that I am in denial, ” he observes. “Other things come filling back, moments like receiving small children with an oxygen tube that bring everything there is back.”

The whole experience has prepared David more psychological. “I think I used to be quite tough but now I start welling up at some of the smallest things.

“I feel so privileged to have Evan and his sister Jorja. We used to look after her sometimes more, and she’s a teenager now- we are so proud of how she has dealt with everything.

“I precisely cherish regarding Evan for being a wee boy. I don’t want to dwell on the sickness, but just seeing him being cheeky and funny. It’s so special just to see him growing up.”


Thanks to Vivienne, Liz and David for sharing their experiences with our Media Volunteer Liaison team.

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