Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Friday, 16th February 2018

Mum and breast cancer patient Lauren talks Disneyland for germs, chemotherapy and why, to her, Dimbleby Cancer Care are 'perfect'

Lauren Tedaldi describes herself as an ‘ex-scientist, stalled writer, current mammy.’ The course of chemotherapy treatment for her breast cancer began when her daughter was 7 months-old. Lauren is grateful to a number of charities for the help they have given her, but there’s one that she describes as ‘perfect’: Dimbleby Cancer Care.

Really Hard

‘It was a long decision to finally take up counselling and it’s not been easy,’ Lauren admits. ‘Not least because I leave each session feeling refreshed and ready to move on, only to return a few weeks later with yet another disaster on my plate.

‘I started to feel like S’s – my counsellor’s – heart would sink when she saw my name on her bookings. Thinking “God, that train-wreck,” on the inside, while she welcomed me into that little room at the Cancer Centre – I’ve cried so much in that room.

‘But I’ve also laughed,’ Lauren continues. ‘And got distracted by the lovely wallpaper. And talked about buying shoes in New York. I would never have gone to counselling if it wasn’t offered for free by a charity called Dimbleby Cancer Care – not because we couldn’t afford it but because I would have had to desperately need it before I’d have found some.

‘It’s really hard to justify the cost of counselling to yourself – or so I’ve found, at least – the cost in money and the cost in time. The cost in sheer emotion and effort – and when you’re just about holding it together, you think “Do I really want to pull at that thread?”’

"I go, I talk and I leave feeling a lot better."

Lauren Tedaldi

Almost Impossible

Lauren delves deeper into why she felt that counselling during her breast cancer treatment was hard to justify. ‘When you’ve got cancer – and after, actually – you spend a truck-load of time at the hospital,’ she says. ‘It can actually become your only social interaction, and after nearly two years of regular attendance, I actually quite like being there these days.

‘But when you have other commitments like work or children that require schedules to be totally rearranged for you to get to the 8th hospital visit in three weeks, it’s almost impossible to imagine that you would add more inconvenience to the pot just for counselling.’

Fortunately, Dimbleby Cancer Care was on hand to help Lauren ease her scheduling worries and still fit in all the physical and mental health treatment she needed.

‘They offered me someone to talk to when I thought I might need it,’ she remembers. ‘They have a centre on the ground floor of my Cancer Centre and it means that, to me, it feels justifiable – like it’s part of my treatment so I go, I talk, and I leave feeling a lot better.’

"They offered me massages to help me relax."

Lauren Tedaldi

'Me' Days

That’s not all that Dimbleby Cancer Care has been able to do for Lauren, however. ‘When I was undergoing a long course of chemotherapy, I was also looking after my baby daughter full-time while my husband worked,’ she explains. ‘Chemo started when she was seven months-old and, while we considered getting her into a nursery, it didn’t make logistical, financial or medical sense.

Lauren's chemotherapy started when her baby was seven months old

‘Chemo wasn’t every day, nursery is expensive and, as many parents will tell you, nurseries are like Disneyland for germs. As I couldn’t risk getting coughs or colds, we kept Milla out of nursery and I did my best to take her to all the appointments that I physically could, while my husband took days off work, or grandmothers babysat, when I couldn’t.

‘The long chemo was giving me back-ache, so a nurse recommended Dimbleby,’ Lauren continues. ‘They offered me massages to help me relax. I politely declined because there was just no way I could justify more family rescheduling just so that I could have a massage.

‘So you know what they did? They arranged for me to get my massages in the two-hour wait between blood tests and the start of chemo each Friday – a small gesture with huge consequences for me.

‘In the immediate days following chemo, I’d be in bed, then I’d still feel rough but get Milla out of the house when I could, take her to doctors’ appointments when I had to, and lie on the floor while she used me like a climbing frame when I simply couldn’t face the day, but with the addition of a massage, chemo days actually became the ‘me’ days.

‘I’d have a massage in the morning and watch TV for the rest of the day – granted, it was because I was attached to an IV line of poison, but you really take what you’re given during those months.’

Dimbleby Cancer Care relies solely on public donations to help people like Lauren, through its Information and Support centres, its online directory Cancercaremap.org and national cancer care research funding. Please give what you can to help them continue their vital work.