My first recollection about finding out about my Mum’s cancer, I was in Grade Six. It was when I came in from primary school and my parents asked me to sit down and I was given raspberry cordial. They both told me that Mum had cancer. I didn’t feel ready to hear that my Mum was going to die. I was told could she might die within days or months. My parents told they did not know when it would happen.
I remember having a long cry with Mum and Dad and we had lots of hugs. Quite frankly at the time I felt I wasn’t ready for the news, but looking back on it now I don’t think that anyone is ever ready for it.
I remember when I was in Year 6 feeling that the news that my Mum had cancer, wasn’t something I wanted to share. I felt like it was a secret that I shouldn’t tell anyone. In the end, I told three of my closest friends, who were all supportive and my friends’ parents were supportive as well. My friends’ parents were considerate, given that no-one really talks about how you acknowledge some-one’s parent who has cancer. (Really, what do you say to a 10 year old, whose Mum is dying of cancer?)
YEAR 7 AND COMMENCEMENT OF COUNSELLING
The start of Year 7 was a new beginning for me with a whole bunch of kids I didn’t know. At this time, I started talking to a counsellor that was available at school. I thought it was a waste of time at the start, but I kept going because it meant time out of class. (Don’t tell my Dad though!). I think I only truly saw the value of my counsellor’s influence, about half a year into the process.
My counsellor helped me to express my feelings about not only the cancer, but how it would affect relationship with my Mum. She provided solutions on how to deal with some of my feelings and cope with some of the things that couldn’t be solved.
I felt that everything I shared with my counsellor, was confidential and would not be shared with others. As a predominately introverted person at the time, I truly valued this arrangement because it meant that I could share how I was truly feeling.
GOING THROUGH THE YEARS
As I went through the next few years of middle school, I found that the counselling was important. It helped me to express my frustration about my Mum’s dying process and to support me to understand my feelings. My aim was to ensure that I wasn’t an angry person as I had seen happen to a few of my friends who had experienced similar events like my own.
This was the year that my mother passed away. It was tough, like in a weird way, because I knew my Mum was no longer in pain, but it was weird because I really wanted to tell her things. You sort of don’t really know what it will be like when someone dies who is close to you until it happens.
I remember my counsellor told my class that my mother had passed away from cancer. This was a surprise to many of the people at school because I hadn’t told any of them even though I had known them for 3 years.
Once my Mum died, I had two weeks where I didn’t attend school, which was good because it means that I had time to spend with Dad and my family. When I returned to school, I had a whole lot of people treat me differently. Bizarrely some people who usually didn’t talk to me at all, were being sympathetic. (Retrospectively, it was kind of weird, but nice that they made the effort).
This ‘weird atmosphere’ around me after my Mum had died, was one that I was trying to avoid.
This is why, I originally did not want to tell people because I wanted to be treated normally. I wanted to live my life without having to think about my Mum every second of every day. I like to think of the memories I shared with Mum, but not every waking minute at school.