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'My daughter Caron's breast cancer'

Article provided by NHS Choices

Gloria Hunniford's daughter, TV presenter Caron Keating, died from breast cancer. Below, Gloria talks about how she coped.

"Caron's positivity was astounding. She always believed she would beat the cancer, even when we were told that she'd be lucky to survive more than 18 months. She lived for seven years after that prognosis. She took all the orthodox medicine plus lots of complementary treatments, like massage and oxygen. I'm so grateful for the extra time we had.

Finding a lump

"I remember when she first found out there was a problem. She'd just had her second baby and rang me up to say she had a lump. It hadn't gone away after six weeks. I insisted she went to see someone.

"After the operation, she came to my house to recuperate. Then Russ, her husband, rang and said the news wasn't good. I didn't know anyone in their early thirties who had breast cancer. I just couldn't take it on board; that this beautiful girl who was sitting up in bed reading was ill.

"Her children were seven and nine when she died. They knew their mother was ill, they saw it, but we didn't tell them that she had cancer. No-one was spelling out that it was cancer."

Coping with cancer

"Through her strength and positivity, she managed to rise above the pain and the anguish. She always used to say that people die of diagnosis. 'Don't give me any diagnosis, just tell me what I need to do and I'll get on with it,' she said.

"Everyone copes in different ways. She fought her battle virtually in secret, and most people only knew about it after she died. It had been such an onslaught on her system.

"Even now it feels terribly unreal. It's nonsense when people say you'll get over it. As the years go on, the reality of her loss gets more acute: she's not around to watch her children grow up, climb trees, play the guitar and do sports.

"I've lost both my parents and my first husband, but losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a mother. You can't carry a child for nine months and not feel that impact for the rest of your life.

"You expect your parents to pass away, even though you hope it's later on. It's in the order of life and you cope with it. But I miss everything about Caron. She was my firstborn and we always had a close relationship. She was a fabulous girl inside and out. I was always a mother first and foremost, but she was a friend too and a joy to have around."

Keeping positive

"I challenge the negativity of my loss in different ways. I administer the Caron Keating Foundation, raising money for cancer charities. If people are looking for a radiographer, counselling services or complementary therapies, anything that makes people feel a bit better, we try to help.

"I'm a great believer in talking about things. Fortunately, my husband is very good at listening. I talked and wept whenever I needed to weep and didn't bottle it up. Keeping busy was good for me too. The busier I am, the more I can cope. So I kept busy with work, family and friends. I put a lot of energy into my grandchildren, as that's when I see her. I try to get something positive from a negative situation." 

Healthtalk has interviews and videos of other people talking about their experiences of bereavement.

Breast cancer is a disease that mainly affects older women. Caron Keating, who was diagnosed at 34, was a rare case.

Article provided by NHS Choices

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