Telling my ten year old daughter I was sick was harder than being told I had cancer

 In Community Specialists, Group Support, News, Young people, Young Shoulders
Neil Byrne was diagnosed with stage two testicular cancer in February 2019.  After surgery and a CT scan in April he found out that the cancer had spread to a lymph node behind his stomach and he needed three cycles of chemotherapy.

Following his diagnosis Neil and his 10 year old daughter Caitróna have been supported by Cancer Fund for Children.  Speaking about his cancer and its impact on Caitróna Neil said,

“I found telling Caitróna that I was sick was harder than being told I had cancer. At the start there were lots of tears from both of us.  Caitróna found it very hard.  She wouldn’t talk about her Daddy being sick with anyone.  She bottled up her feelings and couldn’t even say the word cancer.

“After my treatment started we were assigned a fantastic Cancer Support Specialist Regina who got Caitróna involved in Cancer Fund for Children’s Young Shoulders Programme.  We started with a fantastic night at Belfast Zoo where Caitróna got to meet other children and their parents who also had cancer.  It was an amazing experience. She got to let her hair down and even fed a giraffe.

Residential Group Support

“Caitróna then went on a residential with other young people a similar age whose parents have cancer.  I found that after she spent her first night in

Neil and Caitróna

the charity’s Narnia Log cabin with children going through a similar experience and making new friends she was a lot more confident.  She knew it was ok to talk about her Daddy being sick, and it’s ok to feel sad sometimes.”

A Home From Home

“Cancer Fund for Children’s short break facility Daisy Lodge has to be one of the nicest places I’ve stayed. I found it to be a ‘home from home’ in its friendly atmosphere.  They have an amazing space for everyone to come together and talk in comfort and relax.  They provide excellent activities for the whole family to get involved in, relaxing therapies and even the chance to see the fantastic sights of Newcastle. All I can say is a big thank you to the amazing staff there for looking after us so well.”

Living Life As Normally as Possible

“Cancer Fund for Children has helped us all deal with my cancer.  The charity’s support has helped us to live our lives as normally as possible.  It’s a comfort to know that their support is only a phone call away.  Talking to my Cancer Support Specialist is not like talking to a nurse of a doctor.  It’s more like talking to a friend.

Since finishing his chemotherapy Neil is now going into his sixth week of remission.  He says,

“There is a long way to go before I get back to the way I was but I’m thankful I have the chance.  I count myself lucky as there are families out there going through worse than mine.  I owe a lot of thanks to everyone who has supported us and is still supporting us through this.

People Should Support Cancer Fund for Children

“People should support Cancer Fund for Children so they can keep doing the amazing work they do for children with cancer and also children that have a parent with cancer.  I know once my recovery is over that I will be signing up to take part in one of the charity’s fundraising event to give back.”

Cancer Fund for Children exists to empower, connect and strengthen children and young people impacted by cancer and their families.  Find out more about our support here.


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