When she was 11 years old, Corrie, the elder of Kirsty’s two daughters, was diagnosed with a rare cancer. The closest hospital for her specialist care was 60 miles away. The family had moved to Cumbria just a few years before and had no family close by. They spent that year juggling family life with gruelling chemotherapy on their own, with little help.
Sadly the cancer returned when Corrie was 13. Life was full of chemotherapy, tests and taking bloods. Kirsty was up all night and getting very little sleep – she was exhausted. There was no-one to help, no friends, no relatives, and the hospitals didn’t want them. Kirsty realised she couldn’t cope. She and her husband Edward were exhausted, and she realised they needed help. After a desperate call to their social worker, two Family Support Workers from Rainbow Trust knocked on their door. “At first, I wasn’t happy at all to accept the help of Rainbow Trust. My children and my husband and all my family expected me to be strong.”
When they explained that they provided emotional and practical support for the whole family, the tears poured down Kirsty’s face with relief. The very next day, a a Family Support Worker arrived carrying a huge box with games, activities, books, colouring utensils and the children smiled for the first time in weeks. Kirsty had the first full three hours sleep in two months. As Kirsty remembers, “this was the beginning of a very important part of our lives.”
Rainbow Trust helped by taking Corrie and her sister to the park, or the cinema, or bowling. Kirsty says. “You become over-protective so you don’t dare do anything that might risk your child, obviously.”
“When Corrie had six weeks of radiotherapy, five days a week, our Family Support Workers did one of the 120-mile round trips every week. Otherwise I would have to go on my own and not be with my other daughter, or Edward would have to take the day off work.”
After Corrie had recovered and successfully passed her A-levels, she secured a place at university to study nursing, and decided to take a gap year to travel. Tragically she was drugged, abducted, assaulted and left for dead on the island of Ko Samui in Thailand, and she returned home shattered. Kirsty says, “To our amazement Rainbow Trust heard about this trauma and once again came to our rescue.
“Sadly, within a year, a new cancer along with the old one, reared its ugly head. Rainbow Trust were with us throughout. By this time our family and friends were almost too shocked to know what to say. We felt isolated and alone. I was so touched that Rainbow Trust stayed with us, as Corrie was 20 years old now. But her brother and sister were still in need of support, as were my husband and I.”
Corrie left university when the cancer was diagnosed as terminal. She declined further treatment and married her boyfriend just five weeks before she died. Kirsty says, “Rainbow Trust stayed close by us until we felt we could go on without their support. They helped me to plan and think about Corrie’s death. Without them, the whole process of grief would have been much worse and our family would have been less cared for. We would have more regrets. I certainly have fewer regrets.”
Thank you for supporting families like Corrie's through such tragic times. Your donations give more families access to vital emotional support for as long as it is needed.