is now the carer for her son, Darrin, after his shock blood cancer diagnosis. It’s
a role hundreds of parents take on each year as leukaemia remains Australia’s
most common childhood cancer.
But Lynn can
offer a unique perspective on blood cancer most carers don’t experience: Darrin
is 40 years old and intellectually disabled.
Lynn knew one
of her biggest challenges was working with healthcare staff to tailor Darrin’s
induction to a haematology ward so he was introduced to the new environment and
routine in a nurturing and gentle way.
after appointments, I had to re-explain to Darrin a lot of what the doctors had
said,” she explained.
“To help him
understand what was going on I fed him the information in smaller doses, using
“I told him
that his blood wasn’t working properly so he had to have chemo to kill off the
bad bugs in his system,” she said.
transplant came around, I told him that the chemo didn’t work so we have to get
something from someone else’s body to help make some good bugs.”
that throughout their experience, Darrin has amazed everyone with his
delightful and positive attitude – and thinks ultimately that has helped him
handle his treatment and side-effects so well.
himself to everyone at the hospital and tolerated treatment really well.
“It’s hard to sometimes keep those feelings
locked up and to try to be positive for him.
“But now that
he’s gone through it, and he’s looking good, I’m doing fine. We know he will
make it through.”
shared five tips she found helpful for her and Darrin.
If they ask
hard questions, answer them – by being honest, it can take away some of the
fear. It will be hard for you to talk about things like death, but you need to
have that conversation. You can’t hide things; the fear will build as they know
you’re being secretive. Darrin also needed to understand what was happening as
some of the treatments were going to make him feel sick.
positive where appropriate
Darrin feeds off me so I try to show a
positive and strong front for him. However, I also make sure to always address
any concerns he has.
Find a talking point
the Broncos, so hospital staff would often talk to him about the team when they
first met him. It was a great starting point to make Darrin feel comfortable.
Use clear language
I broke it
down into parts. Part 1 was chemo. Part 2 was the transplant. Part 3 was coming
home and us building him up and getting fit and healthy again. Part 4 would be
him going back to his house. By breaking it down into little small steps, he
understood it a lot better.
Don’t change how you act
our family has still acted normal. No one has stopped treating him the same way
– his brother still riles him up!
The Leukaemia Foundation offers a variety of support services for
carers, including counselling and informal support groups. Contact us on 1800
620 420 or email email@example.com
for more information.
More Inspiring Stories