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August 2014 is when myself and my family’s life began to change. My dad started getting severe pain in his abdomen to the point where he couldn’t walk standing straight. We knew it was something serious so he went to the doctors to check it out.

They ran tests but it wasn’t till over a month later that they finally diagnosed him. Dad had cancer; he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My dad started chemotherapy a few days after his diagnosis and was given a 98% chance of survival.

It was a shock for the whole family, especially because Dad was so healthy and active. Dad was extremely fit. He would cycle at least 200km a week, he did weights every morning before work and he had a well-balanced diet. Now he was in so much pain and could barely move which was nothing at all like him.

I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything to make him feel better. My life seemed to be unravelling and out of control. It was hard to stay optimistic and positive so having others around me who were really helped.  

My dad's cancer brought our family so much closer. My sister moved back home and we were all able to spend a lot more time together as a family. Things were looking better especially since Dad went into remission. However it was short lived because the cancer came back stronger.

It was a mental and emotion rollercoaster going between good and bad news so suddenly. We were torn between being hopeful and realistic. We remained hopeful that he would get through this but unfortunately the chemotherapy was unsuccessful and on the 23rd July 2015, Dad passed away.

I felt relief that my Dad who was in so much pain could finally rest and be at peace without pain. Although I believed he was now in a better place I had lost someone who I loved and was there throughout my whole life. It didn’t help me feeling devastated, scared and upset at the loss.

Life without Dad was a massive change and many big changes happened after he passed away. Initially support came from everywhere but then everyone went back to normal. Everyone except me.

Everyone else’s lives went on, but I felt like I was stuck in the same place. I was upset every day and didn’t know how to move forward in life without my Dad. I had to adjust to a new ‘normal’. My sister moved out and it was just me and mum.

It was around this time I joined CanTeen who’ve really helped me since my Dad passed away. CanTeen have given me the support I need, providing me with fortnightly counselling which have helped me understand how important it is to talk about my feelings and not shut off to everything and everyone around me when things get hard. I have learnt a lot about myself and I believe I can release my feelings in a healthy way that I may not have been able to do without any professional emotional support.

Through CanTeen I’ve met other CanTeen members which has been really nice to hear other people's stories and actually hear about other’s cancer journeys from a patient's and siblings point of view. Being a CanTeen member means everything to me and in some way like a second family. Everyone involved in CanTeen understands what you are going through and meeting so many other patients, siblings of cancer patients and those who’ve lost a parent to cancer like me, has made a big impact on my life and helped make me be the person I am today.

My journey has definitely given me perspective about life and the people I choose to surround myself with on a daily basis. I have learnt a lot about myself and have definitely grown up.

Scarlett - Christchurch


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