Hot on the heels of BBC Children in Need, I thought I would dedicate this post to a charity that has helped our family on and off for thirteen years – CLIC Sargent.
If you are new to my blog then you won’t know that my son was diagnosed with cancer when he was six years old, and again when he was fourteen.
CLIC Sargent is a fantastic charity dedicated to helping children who have been diagnosed with cancer, and supporting their families too.
They help by providing:
- Day to day support such as play therapists, information and guidance
- Financial support (research has shown that parents can spend up to £600 a month in travel to hospital and other extra costs when their child has cancer)
- Homes from Home
- Emotional support
- Bereavement support
Homes from Home
I am going to tell you about the Homes from Home, because they are just such special places and they make an incredible difference at the most stressful of times.
In the summer of 2015, my son had come to the end of his chemotherapy and was about to have many hours of life changing surgery at University College Hospital in London. The hospital was not near our home so his specialist team arranged for us to stay at the CLIC Sargent House (Paul’s House) just a few minutes from the hospital.
One of the most important benefits of this was that my son did not have to sleep at the hospital the night before his surgery. Instead he could sleep in a normal bed, in a family room with us. It was incredibly important to keep the family together as much as possible. We were all more than nervous about his surgery. It was going to take hours and would change his life. I hated the idea of him being alone and scared in hospital the night before, so being able to stay at Paul’s House took away that worry.
On the morning of his surgery we walked the short distance to the hospital together, not having to worry about public transport at all.
We knew that the surgery was going to take hours, and in fact he was in surgery for about 19-20 hours. Having access to Paul’s House meant that we had somewhere comfortable to wait (although I spent some of the day in a different hospital also having surgery – but that’s another story!) rather than pacing the floor of the hospital or spending fortunes in a coffee shop.
In the immediate days after surgery, my son was in Intensive Care and we were only allowed to stay with him from 8am to 8pm. Normally on the childrens’ ward there is space for one parent to sleep, but that is not possible when your child is on ICU. It would have been very stressful to have travelled back home every day; the time, the distance and the cost were all concerns. Instead, we were able to return to Paul’s House just around the corner.
At the house we had our own room but we also had access to a kitchen and sitting room with a television. The idea is exactly what it says and it is a Home from Home. We could prepare our own meals, make tea and coffee, chat to other families, rest in our room if we needed quiet time, but all the while try to be as normal as possible. It was so important to be close to the hospital so that if there had been an emergency we could have been back to my son’s bedside in a flash.
We had a our room at Paul’s House for three weeks, and we are so incredibly grateful because it made such a huge difference to us all. Unless you have experienced something similar, it is very hard to explain exactly what it meant to us. We had so many worries and concerns, but this made things easier by taking away the worry of where we would stay, eating meals, etc
All of the awesome facilities at Paul’s House were provided to us free of charge. That is just amazing, because these homes from home cost the charity around £30 per night per family. So please, please consider a donation to CLIC Sargent through their website and you can help a family like ours.
Thank you CLIC Sargent!