Cancer treatment has taken it's toll physically on Emma Laskey, and emotionally it has hit both her and the rest of the family hard too. Home-Start has been there for them and has ensured the family get the expert support they need.

Emma shares her story: “Physically the last ten years have been both gruelling and intense. Every operation I’ve had has taken something from me – a kidney, part of my liver, my lymph nodes. Every operation has also discovered something I wish it hadn’t like a new tumour. Bringing with it another round of tests, scans and usually ending up with me back on the operating table.

The impact this has had on my family has been huge. My husband has struggled. He’s had to adjust from having a wife that did everything to a wife that can barely do anything. My kids are worried about me – something no mum wants to see. My youngest Oscar, aged four, sees his mum in bed more than anywhere else. It breaks my heart.

Physically I can do less and less, so my GP referred me to Home-Start. That referral led my family to Clare from Home-Start West Somerset. I’m eternally grateful to have Home-Start’s support. It’s made such a difference to my family and helped us as we guide our way through the carnage that my cancer has caused.

I live in an all-male household. Clare provides the female company and support I need. We have a very good relationship and I feel very relaxed with Clare. Having someone you trust to talk to makes me feel human for a while. Clare and I have built up a strong bond and she has provided me with so much emotional support.

There are days when I don’t feel I can be a proper mum to Oscar. But with Home-Start’s support we’ve found ways to work around it. Oscar now sits on my bed and we do arts and crafts or reading. It’s given me back a little bit of being a mum.

There is no cure to my cancer. There’s no magic wand to make everything better. Mine has spread to my liver and peritoneal. So our focus now is on trying to control and contain it. It’s been hard. Home-Start arranged counselling for me to help me with the emotional side as I’m really struggling. One of the hardest things is watching everyone around me try to deal with it.

Cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed. Neil, my husband is going through this with me. Home-Start recognised this and put support in place for Neil. I think many men find it difficult to ask or accept help. I know Neil certainly does. So it was wonderful for this to be recognised and put in place without Neil having to ask.

Over a year ago Home-Start matched Neil with a volunteer, James. They are both now firm friends and have their weekly walks. This has been a weight off my mind. I saw him struggling but now, when he has been with James, he is always a bit brighter.

Neil and I have decided that each step of the way we are going to be honest with the kids. They know everything that’s going on but it’s hard for them to comprehend that mum won’t get better. Home-Start arranged for my son Codie, aged 14, to receive support as a young carer. He takes such good care of me so it is good for him to have his own support network.

I’m now focusing on being as well as I can be before I start the next round of treatment. Life has given my family a tough path, but support from Home-Start is helping us to find our way through.”

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