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A Mom’s Story: Cheryl

“I didn’t jump right away to calling it “cancer”. Initially, I talked [to my kids] about having a blood disorder, and that might have been more for me than them, I wasn’t quite ready to use the cancer word myself.”

Multiple myeloma: those are the words Cheryl, mother of three, did not want her children to associate with the idea of mom. After seeing her family doctor for fatigue and excruciating back pain that nearly lead to tears with movement, Cheryl was faced with a diagnosis that could change her and her family’s life significantly.

“I can do most things. But at the pace of 60% of what a normal person could do. Basically I operate like a 70-year-old. If you wanted to picture it, look at my mom, and I have about the get-up-and-go that she has.”

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Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that is very difficult to treat, and requiring different combinations of medications to manage. Because of this, Cheryl requires regular doctor appointments, and as a result of her many medications, has been in and out of hospitals for complications.

“I’m in constant treatment. I’ll do one thing until that stops working, and then they’ll switch me to something else, till they run out of things to switch me to. The treatment I’m on now results me in having very low immunity to anything […] over the holidays, I was in hospital for shingles, meningitis, and an intestinal infection. Last march, I was in hospital for a week with pneumonia, and a blood infection. I don’t just get a cold, I get in terrible situations. [It’s] eye opening to me in terms of just how unreliable my body has become. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

With three children, ages 12, 9, 5, Cheryl and her husband were struggling to balance everything from the medical appointments, working, and taking care of the family, all on their own.

“My daughter was going to a program 2 days a week, which was the only way during the initial stages of me getting really sick that I could even manage, and I was just trying to fit all my appointments on those 2 days. The other 3 days, I was basically lying around feeling crappy and useless.”

Living a distance away from family, and feeling the increasing burden of asking for help from friends, Cheryl was able to turn to the Nanny Angel Network (NAN) for support. NAN understands how vulnerable women can feel when asking for help, and strives to ensure that all mothers feel welcome.

“[It’s] like a sense of not being entirely alone – we don’t have a lot of family support that’s available on a regular basis, so that made it very nice, to feel like there was someone you could call. And also, initially, I was very concerned about finances, and the fact that this was available, free of charge, was a huge benefit. Having someone routinely is really beneficial because then you have this ray of hope […] that one day you’re going to have a couple of hours to go get groceries or something without dragging your kids with you.”

Once Nanny Angels were able to step in, not only was Cheryl able to find more time to focus on her health, but she was also able to spend more quality time with her family.

“During the summer, [NAN visits] coordinated frequently with the day that my 12-year-old had his baseball games, so I was able to actually go see some of his baseball games, because if I go to a game with the other two kids, then there’s no actually watching the game happening. So I was able to watch some of his games which was nice for both of us.”

Cheryl shared how isolated she felt living with a chronic illness. With a little over two years since her diagnosis, Cheryl is still finding that small gestures of kindness can go a long way.

“You know what, it gets a little old. It gets a little old in the second year. People want to think you’re just fine. And we just get so used to this kind of new normal. But last week we had someone out of the blue show up with a great plate of lasagna, and I was really kind of shocked at just how much I appreciated that. Having access to NAN is like that. Sure, we are managing on our own, but when someone cares enough to give of themselves just to make my life a little easier and add enjoyment to the lives of my kids, it is very special. It’s more than a few hours to catch up on some errands, or rest, or even spend one-on-one time with one of my kids. It’s a reminder that there is good in this world and that even if I can’t be there for my children there are others who will be.”

Cheryl is just one of many moms who NAN helps support through their cancer treatment.

This Mother’s Day, please consider supporting NAN in honour of a mother in your life, and help us change the lives of mothers living with cancer.

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Text & Photos: Nanny Angel Network

NAN’s New Partnership

The Nanny Angel Network is so excited to announce their new partnership with Canadian fashion label Miik this Mother’s Day. Miik, a Canadian fashion label focused on making environmentally friendly clothing that suits all body types, has created a one-of-a-kind infinity scarf in its custom bamboo fabric just for the Nanny Angel Network! With 50% of profits going directly to NAN, this is truly a case of women helping and supporting other women. Miik is led by President Susan Cadman and co-founder Donna Smith, both Canadian moms who were touched when they learned about the Nanny Angel Network and the services that it provides to mothers with cancer in the GTA.

“Donna and I are both working moms and when we learned what the Nanny Angel Network does for Canadian women it really hit home for us,” says Cadman. “The NAN scarf is our way of supporting fellow Canadian moms who are going through the toughest of times.” Miik’s NAN scarf is an incredibly soft, tri-colour infinity scarf in fuchsia, charcoal, and soft pink, separated by a black stripe. Made using Miik’s custom-milled, luxury bamboo fabric it’s produced entirely in the GTA. “All of our manufacturing is done locally to reduce our carbon footprint and support local businesses. The NAN scarf is truly Canadian,” explains Cadman.

Designed by women, for women and with proceeds supporting women in need, the NAN scarf is a symbol of women coming together to care for each other when it’s needed most. “When a mother is diagnosed with cancer, often her first thought is about her children – who will care for them and how will she manage,” says Audrey Guth, Founder of the Nanny Angel Network. “NAN allows mothers to get the rest they need, while their children get the emotional support needed to thrive through this difficult time in their lives.” NAN’s Nanny Angels are childcare professionals who volunteer to provide support to a family throughout a mother’s cancer treatment, something that wouldn’t be possible without supporters like Miik.

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“We’re so grateful that Miik has designed a scarf to support the Nanny Angel Network – the proceeds will help us to provide care to more moms in the GTA,” says Guth. Whether as a beautiful mother’s day gift or simply a stylish addition to your own wardrobe, the NAN scarf is a great way to support the Nanny Angel Network. Every scarf sold helps to provide free, specialized in-home childcare to mothers with cancer in the GTA.

 


Text: Jensine Jones     Photos: Miik