Devoted Southbourne father shares experiences caring for daughter with cancer
A DEVOTED father has shared his experiences looking after his daughter with a rare form of cancer - as the city council thanks all those who have been caring for loved ones through the pandemic.
The life of the Peters family from Southbourne changed this year when daughter Irene was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, aged just 23.
Her father Shaun, who has worked as an independence support assistant for people with learning disabilities for 14 years through Portsmouth council, took on the role of her carer while still working - alongside other family members.
51-year-old Shaun said: ‘The initial shock of her diagnosis was little short of knocking us sideways and we both cried out of pity for her and, to be honest, ourselves.
‘She is just over halfway through her chemotherapy with all that comes with this and we cross our fingers that this treatment will do what it is supposed to do over the next few months and she can live her life once again.
‘I have played a caring role through my work for many years and whilst I have been comfortable with that with a reasonable distance being kept between work and home life being essential; to suddenly be a carer as opposed to just dad has taken some adjustment psychologically.
‘It can be extremely draining, particularly for my wife Lorraine, who does most of the practical elements of her care and we know the route to St Richard’s Hospital very well.’
Shaun said the responsibilities of caring ‘often weighed heavy’ on both him and Lorraine.
He added: ‘There is little opportunity for her to go out and do things that aren’t heavily carer-related. We are still waiting to be able to go out for something social now that the restrictions have got a little less restrictive.’
Shaun, Lorraine and Irene also live with Lorraine’s mother Lorna and brother Nick.
Their story comes as Portsmouth City Council has paid tribute to the work of unpaid carers in line with national Carers Week (June 7 to 13).
In an open letter council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson and health boss Cllr Jason Fazackarley said: ‘It may sometimes have felt that you have been hidden at home and that the caring work you do hasn’t been recognised like that of keyworkers in the pandemic.
‘Please know that we understand and appreciate you more than we can ever say. Your care and support to our residents who have long-term health conditions or disabilities means the world to them and us.
‘The magnificent work that you do must have been made even more difficult during the pandemic, when there have been so few opportunities for a break, or even to socialise and share with others, but it does not go unnoticed.’
Support for carers is available in Portsmouth via 023 9285 1864 and [email protected]