1. ITV Report

Over 50,000 mums living with cancer in Wales

Macmillan Cancer Support says parents are having to deal with a range of issues Credit: PA

An estimated 50,000 mothers are living with a cancer diagnosis in Wales according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity has raised concerns about parents having to cope with a range of issues, including breaking the news of their cancer to their children, being apart from them while they have treatment, and needing to pay extra childcare costs.

Of the 50,000 mothers, 10,00 are estimated to have children under the age of 19.

of people living with cancer are parents

Macmillan Cancer Support is holding the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event tomorrow (29 September), aimed at raising awareness of the challenges parents face.

Suzanne Rees and her daughter Chelsea Credit: Macmillan Cancer Support

40-year-old Suzanne Rees, from Merthyr found out she had breast cancer in April 2014. With only one week from diagnosis to undergoing major surgery, Suzanne said she had very little time to prepare and didn't know when she would tell her 13-year-old daughter Chelsea.

Speaking about her cancer experience, Suzanne said:

A friend of mine had died the previous year from breast cancer and Chelsea asked me straight out if I was going to die.

I told her that I didn’t know but I was going to fight it with everything I’d got but I knew I couldn’t make a promise on things I didn’t know to be true.

It was hard to know when or how I should tell Chelsea. I didn’t have any information to guide me. I got the news of my diagnosis on a Thursday and was scheduled for surgery the next week but Chelsea had an orchestra concert on the Friday, and then she had an important karate competition on the Saturday.

I didn’t tell Chelsea immediately as I didn’t want to put her off her activities.

– Suzanne Rees

After her emergency surgery Suzanne underwent six courses of chemotherapy and 20 radiotherapy treatments. Severe side effects from the cancer treatments meant that Suzanne was admitted to hospital three times.

is the average age of mums with cancer in the UK who have teenagers

Although Suzanne’s treatments finished in November 2014, she was off work for a year in total.

I was lucky.

My employers were very supportive but I had a lot of unexpected costs. I got a lot of local support from Macmillan and that’s why I now fundraise for Macmillan here in Merthyr - I want to pay back the help they gave me.

– Suzanne Rees

Speaking about the long-term impact of her cancer diagnosis and treatment on her daughter, Suzanne said:

Chelsea is still nervous when it comes to my yearly mammogram to check that I’m still clear of cancer - we both are.

My grandmother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer which left me worried that I had passed on genes to Chelsea which put her at a higher risk of the disease.

It was a relief to find out that my grandmother and I have very different types of breast cancer and there was no inherited risk.

In a funny way surviving cancer has given me a new zest for life.

I've qualified as a scuba diver and am now the vice chairman of the local dive club and I have just booked my Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) test which is the first step to getting my bike licence.

– Suzanne Rees

Susan Morris, Head of Services for Macmillan in Wales, said:

I know how much energy it takes to be a parent so I can’t imagine how hard it must be when you’re also coping with the emotional strain of cancer or having gruelling treatment.

– Macmillan, Susan Morris

The charity provides Macmillan nurses and professionals who can offer practical and emotional support, as well as information on how to communicate with children about cancer.

The figures are based on a survey of more than 2,000 people living with cancer in the UK, conducted by YouGov.