CLIC Sargent Young People’s Community Worker
The Current post-holder, Lara, helps young people who have been diagnosed with cancer, making sure that they receive age-appropriate support throughout their cancer treatment and beyond.
When Siobhan was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lara helped her with a wide-range of issues; supporting her emotionally, practically and financially during her treatment.
“I woke up one day and just had an overwhelming feeling that I had cancer. I think people think I’m mad when I say that.
“I checked my boobs that morning and they were ok but that feeling didn’t leave me. The next day, I checked my boobs again and found a lump. I went to the doctors, they said that it’s likely it’s just a gland but they referred me on just to be sure. Two weeks later, they did an ultrasound and found a tumour.
“I didn’t really know much about cancer so in my mind it was a death sentence. When the doctor said grade 3, I thought it meant the same as stage 3 and that I was going to die. I burst into tears; I was in shock and everything felt like it was in slow motion.”
“They asked me if I’ve got any questions and I asked – “is it treatable?” When they said it was, it gave me relief. I don’t think I really took it in and it hit me a month later.
“I was really surprised; my dad was amazing. We don’t normally talk about emotions but he was so strong. He was with me when I found out and he held my hand. When I told my Mum she cried down the phone and so I had to be strong for her. Everyone was shocked I guess because of my age (22). My sister who is 11 months older than me found it very hard especially with work and just feeling helpless.
“I was due to have 20 weeks of chemo and I really panicked about work. As a Social Worker, I work with around 20 families and it takes a long time and a lot of work to grow those relationships. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I think on reflection I threw myself into it too much but I wanted to make sure I handed everything over properly.”
“I was really upset I was going to lose my hair”
“I was on the young people ward talking about hair and another girl told me about CLIC Sargent getting her a wig. I filled out a form and Lara called me asking me about what I needed. She said she was there if I needed any help, which was so important.
“She helped me get my wig, which has made such a difference and helped me deal with one of my biggest insecurities. Through Lara, I’ve been able to go to things and meet people my age which has been fun and helped me through it.
“I was struggling with my mum’s diagnosis (she was diagnosed with cancer a month after Siobhan) so Lara put me in touch with the people who help with counselling. She is on the ball with everything; she WhatsApps me which keeps everything simple. She is informal and friendly, not like the doctors. It’s great to chat to someone about positive things because during your treatment everything is very often negative.
“Her role is really supportive and has made a massive difference. Before I felt isolated, going through hospital and everything else on my own. My head’s not in the right place to be searching for the right information, so having Lara there makes everything easier.
“If I have a question I can whatsapp her. It’s just nice to know there is someone there outside of my family to chat to if I need it. I don’t always want to talk to my family because I don’t want to upset them.”