Mandy Jones was just 36 and had just given up smoking when she was given the devastating news she had cancer of the larynx.
As a single mother to Callum, who was just five at the time of her diagnosis, Mandy said she felt scared for their future.
“I had known something was wrong,” Mandy said. “I just lost my voice - and couldn’t get it back. I was back and forth to my doctors before I was sent to the hospital and the cancer was diagnosed.”
Mandy was told the type of cancer she had was rare in a woman of her age. “I was told it was normally seen in the lung and they would expect to see it in a man in his 60s, who smoked 60 a day and drank a bottle of whiskey a day - not a 36 year-old mum.”
With the support of her family Mandy, who was living in Birmingham at the time, underwent chemo and radiotherapy. At times it forced her to be away from Callum for days at a time.
“I thought he was taking it all in his stride. He just seemed to get on with things. Even when I lost my hair, he saw me and just treated me as if everything was normal.”
But a few years later Callum was referred to the Chance for Change programme where he worked with Action Cancer.
“This allowed him to open up and express his thoughts and worries either through words, play or pictures. One day he came back with a project book that he had been working on during his counselling sessions.
“He needed photos to put in it and wanted to show me what he had done so far. It was then I realised just what an impact my illness had had on him,” Mandy said.
“He also started to ask me if we could talk about my cancer and asked if he could speak about it at school as part of a project they were doing on cancer. He wanted to mention that he had had counselling with Action Cancer.
“The counselling showed him that it was ok to discuss it. It was such a step forward and a great bonding experience for us both.”
To support Action Cancer or for information on where to get advice call Glenn Oakes on 028 9080 3345 or email@example.com.