After a nine-month battle with the NHS, my son, Logan, finally got diagnosed with a severe form of cancer in 2019. He was eight. Then, in September 2022, he rang the bell. ‘It’s really hard to describe. It doesn’t sound real. And often I can’t believe it myself,” says Sue his Mum.
Nobody would ever know
Logan appears like any other youngster on the cusp of his teenage years. Nobody can see the mental scars of relentless chemo and strong steroids. It was a toxic mixture and he spent 18 months in a wheelchair because he was so weak. He seemed dead with the treatments and it has severely affected his mental health.
Thrown straight into endless treatments
There wasn’t any support to navigate the strange times ahead. Yes, CLIC Sargent, now called Young Lives vs Cancer, is a great charity. They guide you to get a disability living allowance. And Becky, our dedicated nurse was amazing. She was there to support us emotionally and she became like a friend more than a nurse.
Acorns, the children’s hospice for mental health
Becky organised support from Acorns which also offered counselling. But it wasn’t the right sort of counselling; not the right sort of help for me personally. It is so hard for people to understand what we are going through. I found the local Facebook group, Mums Unite, very supportive.
I live a ‘cancer life’
Before Logan was diagnosed, I worked full-time. My husband and brother own a nursery and farm shop. I haven’t worked since Logan was diagnosed. My Mum had a stroke recently and still has cancer herself. Friends are there but the can’t really understand. It’s that bad sometimes, it doesn’t sound real.’
My sisters are very, very good. But they are not living it 24/7. It has such an effect on my and Logan’s mental health. In fact, it has taken over from the cancer side of things. We are now waiting for autism assessments. It could be 12 months! That said, we are enjoying having Logan drug-free.
At secondary school
With all the stress that Logan has been through, he moved to secondary school in September 2022. It’s really different because everyone at primary grew up with him. He looks great and he’s a very well-mannered youngster.
It’s worse than having a baby without nappies
Logan is eating again and doing well. He wants to go out with friends and we’ve got a puppy! “It’s not helping my mental health!”, says Sue. “It’s worse than having a baby without nappies to help.” Our whippet is called Blue. “He really helps Logan’s mental health as he cries at night with all the things going on in his head.” Blue soothes him and winds him up. And Blue helps us as a family. He gets us out of the house on days when we feel broken.
A full week at school
Recently, Logan achieved a full week at school – the first in four years. For me, it means I never have time for myself. Between respiratory, oncology, and psychology appointments, I care for my Mum. I think it’s easier going to work!
How was the Covid lockdown for you all?
We loved it! I wish we could go back.
Left to his own devices
Logan’s brother, Morgan, who was 18 last October, has not had it easy. As we coped with Logan, he was left to his own devices. None of us had time to process the cancer news. It was constant. We couldn’t even have a drink because we might need to drive! It was like living on a knife edge all the time. We’ve also had a family tragedy to contend with, but that’s a whole other story.
Kingham Cottage was a touch of normal life
Our stay at the After Umbrage cottage got us away from the stress. We were a normal family. We visited Bath, Bradford-on-Avon, and Brean, Weston-Super-Mare too. Bournemouth and Sandbanks too. The cottage is in a great location, and we loved the local pub.
Am I really talking about myself?
“I am a carer. I am a Mum. I’m doing what Mums do. Everyday. It doesn’t sound real when I talk about it. Am I really talking about myself?” I am lucky to have children and my son is still alive. He is beating cancer for the time being. My brother-in-law lost his daughter in a car accident, my niece. It’s hard for us all.
Working and caring was so stressful
I used to work as a purchaser for an international company making hospital doors and hard partitioning. I was there for 2 years and the company was fantastic when Logan was ill. They were phenomenal in supporting me. Sadly, I decided to leave because Logan was always poorly. I did look for another job at one point but Logan became more ill so I stopped. I now have the fear factor of looking for work. Financially, we have coped, but we used to have two good salaries to live on. In the future, I might consider working for a children’s charity. It will feel like giving something back.
Sue and her family are from Himley in the West Midlands, near Stourbridge. They enjoyed a break at Kingham Cottage in the autumn of 2022 and explored the area fully as well as the local pubs. We thank Sue for giving us such an honest account of her life caring for Logan. We hope that Sue’s experience helps others understand how resilient unpaid carers are. And indeed, have to be.