Coping with a child who has cancer is one of the most difficult things a parent can go through.
But for Laura Smith, of Rose Grove, Galgate, dealing with childhood cancer is second nature after her son Oliver was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in November 2001 aged just three.
Oliver, now eight, won his fight on March 29 2015 when he finally took his last dose of chemo.
Laura said: “He still doesn’t like to talk about his illness or acknowledge anything. I don’t think he understands how serious it was.”
CancerCare in Lancaster has a dedicated Children and Young Peoples Service for children aged from three to 18, their parents and carers.
Laura said: “Using the services at CancerCare is not something I have ever thought about. Oliver is not on any treatment and he doesn’t want to be seen to be any different than anyone else.
“But for children whose parents are poorly, it’s somewhere children can go to. It’s scary watching your parent go through something like that. They do some amazing work at CancerCare.
“As Oliver gets older he is starting to understand and talk about it a little bit more but he doesn’t like to make an issue out of it.He has moved on from it now.
“My coping mechanism was to write everything down and I kept that up. It’s a true story of a mother whose child is going through cancer. It’s all there in three A4 books .
“I found it easier to pour everything out on paper and I’m glad I did do that. When he reaches his 20s or 30s, it’s all there. I haven’t had any counselling, I went to the doctor’s and was referred. I missed a phone call and never heard anything again. I’m now in my third year of organising a charity event at The Globe.
“The first year I couldn’t do a speech but each year I’ve been getting better.You get busy and things do get better. “
Laura wrote to Lancaster City Council to request to have the Ashton Memorial at Williamson Park lit up in gold to send a big message across the Lancaster district to raise awareness of the facts and symptoms of childhood cancers. She said: “It really means a lot to me and if it makes just one or two people think about or become more aware of childhood cancer or raise funds to help find a cure or simply look up the symptoms of it then that’s amazing.
“As a cancer parent it helps heal your scars if you feel you are making a difference.”
The memorial will be illuminated in gold until September 30.
The Lancaster Guardian Cancer Care Counts campaign aims to raise cash for CancerCare and awareness of the charity.
There are many ways you can help:
lCheck out their events calendar on their website at cancercare.org.uk/events.
lOrganise your own event – hold a coffee morning or a bake-off at your work or school. Host a pamper evening with your friends or organise a pub quiz. CancerCare can support you every step of the way and provide you with all the materials you might need including collection tins or buckets, posters and sponsor forms. Emai the fundraising team firstname.lastname@example.org
lMake a donation. Text CCAR31 to 70070 with the amount you wish to donate – £1-£5 or £10 – or donate at cancercare.org.uk/donate . Alternatively you can send a cheque made payable to CancerCare North Lancashire & South Lakeland. If you wish to contact CancerCare call 01524 381820, email email@example.com, send a message on Facebook at ‘CancerCareCharity’ or tweet to @CancerCarelocal.