When Nicola Dady was diagnosed with kidney cancer back in 2010, her two children were just three and seven years old. As a single mum, caring for them while undergoing gruelling cancer treatment was a logistical and emotional nightmare. Not only was Dady struggling on a person level, but her main concern was first and foremost for her children.
“When I wasn’t at home, they were staying with this person and then that person,’ she tells The Huffington Post UK. “They were passed around really, it wasn’t nice. I felt a lot of guilt.”
Today, Dady is in remission and is determined to make sure other children whose parents have cancer receive the support they need.
In 2013 she set up Don’t Forget The Kids, a charity offering peer support for under 17s whose lives have been disrupted by the disease.
Don’t Forget The Kids is a Tottenham-based self-help support group for young people who have a parent or carer living with cancer. Adults attend along with their children to form one big supportive family, who laugh together, cry together and help each other navigate life after illness. Dady set up the charity because from the day of her diagnosis, she felt there was a lack of cancer services dedicated to helping children.
She didn’t know how to tell her son and daughter she was unwell and felt there was no one offering support. “I went to Macmillan (and) I went to my doctors, and asked ‘how do I tell my kids that I’ve got cancer?’, but no one could help me,” she says.
“So I took it upon myself to order some books off the internet from the States that explain cancer to kids for their age group.”
The mum, who was 33 at the time, booked a family holiday to Switzerland because she thought telling the children while they were distracted by a fun, new surrounding might ease the blow.