So, I don’t really know where to start because I haven’t spoken to anyone about the topic or even thought about opening up. No time like the present, right? But please, bare with me. On Christmas Eve my grandmother had a stroke in a nursing home and was taken to hospital where she had scans and my mother was told that she had brain cancer..... a tumour on the right side of her brain the size of a tennis ball (she didn’t tell me... she didn’t want to upset me). A few days later my mother had to leave the country and was completely unreachable for 2 weeks and my aunt was staying with me. On the 6th of January I received a call from the nursing home telling me my grandmother had passed. Every single person in my family was uncontactable and I was a 45 minute drive away from the nursing home. So I drove home, told my aunt and she walked out the door and went to the nursing home to sit with my Nan’s body. When she came home she handed me the notice of death which listed the reasons for death and said “there’s nothing on there that we didn’t already know.” So I took it to my room, prepared myself and read it (in a complete mess by the way) and was shocked and broke down more when I saw that brain cancer was listed. I had to wait days for my mother to come home to ask her why she never told me and her reason was because she didn’t want to hurt me. But it just destroyed me even more. I dropped out of school in year 10 and started home schooling so that I could become a carer for my Nan because I was so against having her move into a nursing home. From the age of 3 I knew how to handle her diabetes, knew how to call an abulance and knew everything I needed to know about her illnesses, medications and allergies in case of a medical emergency. Yet I wasn’t told that she had cancer. That destroyed me. I shut down. Didn’t eat, didn’t want to do anything, was pissed off at the world for taking my best friend away, wouldn’t leave the house and was put on medications for extreme anxiety and depression. My anxiety was so bad just getting into the car would cause me to feel nauseous to the point of dry heaving and I’d shake and sweat. I couldn’t even pull myself together enough to attend the funeral which to this day I am absolutely kicking myself over. I had this constant need to just be in my bed which was a safe place to me. I was fired from my job. And all I wanted was my best friend back. I just wish I had of known. I wish I had support at the time. I wish I was able to take all over my Nan’s pain away. I still can’t drive on the road of be nursing home she was in. I feel so alone. I feel like the world has let me down and I don’t know how to help myself because I genuinely am not ready to accept a world without my nan in it. I don’t know how to be happy anymore. I don’t know if it’s my age (21) or the fact that this is my first encounter with death and/or cancer, but I’m really struggling. To all the people here who has lost a family member from cancer, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how you feel, everyone feels so differently. But the strength you have to overcome your loss is really, really admirable. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.