Guest List: Advice From a Cancer Carer

Romantic oncology selfie.jpg

Stacy and her husband Greg

** For the next month I am dedicating Mother of All Lists to Stand Up to Cancer. Each week will be one persons unique account of the impact Cancer has had on their life. **

When Stacy AKA @beneath_the_weather reached out to me her story it stopped me in my tracks because it was so relatable. You see, we are both Mum’s to two small kids, which is a challenge in itself. But now Stacy is coping with something far more demanding: she has become husband too. This is her advice to anyone else who finds themselves in the same position:

  • My life in 2017 in a nutshell – I am a 37 year old fashion academic with two girls Dali (3) and Bay (1), a toy poodle Little Milk and I am a carer to my partner Greg who was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer last year.

  • He was diagnosed on Bay’s 1st birthday. I had to hear him ask how long he had to live. I let Dali smash up Bay’s cake and eat it off the kitchen floor.

  • He began chemo on his 40th birthday. There was no cake involved because he felt too sick.

  • I began a crowd funding campaign Give4greg to raise money for treatment not available on the NHS. I set the initial target as £100,000 and lay in bed the night before the campaign launched thinking about what we could sell in our house if we only raised £200.

  • The campaign went viral and smashed the target in 48 hours.

  • Give4Greg has raised over £209,000 in 10 months.

  • Witnessing the kindness of strangers at this level has intrinsically changed me. I feel kinder, less judgmental, more likely to see the best in people.

  • When this is a matter of life or death, treatments and drugs being available privately but not through the NHS becomes an ethical question, not just a financial one.

  • You may not be the one with cancer but your life is also changed forever. All of your relationships will change. A lot of people will talk to you with a tilted head and a squint.

  • There are moments you aren’t proud of but they are honest feelings –anger, resentment, frustration, self-pity.

  • I feel like I need a better answer to the question ‘how are you?’ than a vague shrug or nervous laugh.

  • My mum said that she bought her white Nissan Qashqai because it was ‘a bit different’ so was annoyed when she suddenly started seeing them everywhere. They were always there but she had no reason to notice them. Cancer is the same. It’s literally everywhere but until it smashes into your world, you might not notice it.

  • The best things people have done for us is make food and send messages. Our friends set up a Whatsapp group to organise who was cooking what. We had home cooked meals delivered every day for four months.

  • Most people are desperate for you to be positive. I am but I’m not super human. One of the hardest things to deal with is being shut down with blanket positivity when you need to get the hard stuff out.

  • I started my website Beneath the Weather because I needed somewhere to talk about the hard stuff. It seemed important to offer this space to other people too. I’m not unique in shit things happening in life.

  • Hard stuff is a complex beast – it can be heart breaking but also funny, uplifting, comforting, encouraging, proactive.

  • Greg is the super talented one – he has been signed to a professional football club, been a rock star, published poet and fine artist, all in less than 40 years. I’ve always pondered what my talent might be, only ever coming up with making people feel at ease. I don’t think being a good person to chat to at a party is a lucrative career.

    My magical boy.jpg

    Greg begun treatment on his 40th birthday,

  • I’m the one with major imposter syndrome, who thinks she somehow conned a university into hiring her as a course leader.

  • I would never have started my own community if Greg didn’t have cancer. It is a strange feeling to become more authentic and confident as a person than you ever have been as the result of your partner becoming gravely ill.

  • The most important lesson I have learnt as both a carer and a mother – you MUST put yourself at the top of the pile otherwise what you have left for other people is just the dregs of yourself.

  • I do this in lots of ways – I have massages, I go out every week for dinner with my friends, I buy myself the wine I want instead of the cheapest. Importantly, I am in control of ALL music in my car (I can’t listen to the fucking beauty and the Beast soundtrack 30 times a day).

  • My advice to other cancer carers – say yes to literally ANY help that is offered. Being a martyr helps no one.

  • My advice to anyone who knows a cancer carer – Don’t ask ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do for you’.

  • Having to think of a task is yet another job to add to the already unwieldy to-do list. Rock up with a pie and chocolate, find out what day their bins are collected and pull them out onto the road. Take 3 seconds to send a message to say you are thinking of them. It will mean everything.

    The water babies

    Parenting & being a carer is full on, but you still have to put yourself first occasionally

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  • Reply Audrey October 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    What a great honest piece. Having been on the other side of the relationship I can relate to this in so many ways. Xx

  • Reply Patrick Reeve October 4, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Great post, brought a tear to my eye. Hope Greg is doing ok and you too!

  • Reply Sarah October 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Fab post – so true. As someone in a similar boat (2yo + 7mth old and husband diagnosed with 5th cancer recurrence) I can relate to this and it is a good reminder that I need to look after myself too. Thank you! Wishing you all the best in fighting this bastard disease. Sx

  • Reply Claire Hobden November 6, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    So that’s me 😢

  • Reply Now That’s What I Call A List 2017 – Mother of all Lists December 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm


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