Evelyn Bourke, Bupa Group CEO, is supporting World Cancer Day by sharing her experience of Cancer, and offers advice to others supporting loved ones.
Eleven years ago, my mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 66. Brain tumours are very scary, as the general outlook isn’t particularly good. After a biopsy, it was clear to us that surgery wasn’t an option for mum, but she did have radiotherapy.
That essentially gave her 12 months of pretty good quality life, though she couldn’t drive (a drawback when you live in the countryside). My dad took on the job of being her wheels and mum was able to be there for important family events, like the First Communions of my eldest nieces.
After initially struggling emotionally with her diagnosis, she found a way of accepting it. She said to her sister, “I now know the meaning of ‘present’ in ‘present day’. Every day that I wake up, it’s a present.” The human spirit has immense capacity to come through the darkest hours and realise that every day is a gift.
Being physically present to offer support to loved ones is key. Coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis is a very personal journey. Even though you haven't got answers, just being there and being willing to listen helps.
The biggest help to me during my mum's journey was family. We were there for each other and for my father. But there are also tensions and anxieties. Just remember not to be too hard on each other!
World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.
For further information and advice visit Bupa's health information page on cancer.