Matthew first came to Impact in 2013. He was struggling to find somewhere suitable to live where he would feel supported after experiencing relationship breakdown with his ex-partner, while trying to cope with the bereavement and loss of his baby boy. Throughout his time living in supported accommodation through Impact Living, Matthew has had his ups and downs. He was very close to his mum, Janine, and they had supported each other a lot during difficult times. Janine was (and will continue to be) a much-loved lady by all staff and tenants within Wilfred Drive, she made such a huge impact to those she spent time with; always going the extra mile to help others.
In 2013, Janine was diagnosed with Cancer and through support from Impact Living, Janine and Matthew were provided with a much-needed respite break to the Lanzarote Villa Casa Joules in Playa Blanca.
Sadly Janine passed away in March and will be missed by everyone at Impact Living.
In 2014, I met with Matthew and Janine where they told me all about their experience:
Janine: “I was working as a supply nursery nurse helping young people with special needs when Matthew was about 3 years old. Many years later, in February 2013, one of the pupils I used to help in lessons recognised me in the supermarket; I know her Parents and Uncle from the church I go to.
I asked where she was living because I was helping Matthew to look for somewhere to live where he would be able to have his own independence but also have someone available to support him and reassure him when he is struggling.
That is when we found out about Impact Living.
Matthew attended two interviews at Wilfred Drive and was contacted shortly after by the support team to let him know that he had been accepted for a flat and could move in as soon as possible.”
Matt: “Impact have helped me to build up my confidence and trust with others as well as myself, I have made a lot of new friends and found out I love to cook. I made my first steps to making friends through attending one of Impact Living’s movie nights.”
Janine: “Matt has become very well known among the tenants and staff at Impact and they have shown us support through my recent struggle with Cancer.
About 2 years ago my mum was sent for a Mammogram, she was reluctant to attend but eventually she did, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had been told that if she did not go for the Mammogram when she did, this would have spread.
My mum went for a test to see if this was hereditary however it was found that she was not a carrier of the gene. My younger sister goes for regular Mammograms and had advised me to go.
I believe that my sister saved my life; because like my mum I was also very reluctant to attend because I had never felt better and did not want to waste the Doctor’s time.
However, after a lot of persuasion from my sister, during the October school break, I attended and was diagnosed with Cancer. I attended the Mammogram, Scan and Biopsy through Western Park Hospital and had lumpectomy surgery – where a large lump and small lump were removed.
It did not hit me until I was told that I would have radiotherapy after…I thought to myself, “after what??” …I was given the news that I had a protein called HER2 which means that I am at risk of getting Cancer again. To prevent this, I was given the Wonder Drug Herceptin, an injection in my leg where I would have less chance of getting Cancer again…
…It was announced on the TV today that there is now 40% chance of getting Cancer again when using the drug… it used to be 95% – however for this to work, I also had to have 4 lots of Chemotherapy where I lost most of my hair.
Losing my hair was very difficult, I would find it everywhere and it became a constant reminder.
On St Georges Day I raised £99 for Cancer Research by shaving my hair off at Parkwood Academy – I had to attend the school when there were no children because I was extremely prone to infection which could not only risk my health but also my life.
Because of this I spent a lot of time in isolation…but in the isolation I was brought back to the Lord, I did not feel alone. The message “I will never leave you nor forsake you” stays with me.
Having Cancer opened my eyes; it made me realise friendships that I did not know I have, friends who encouraged me to take each day as it comes.
It also made me realise that the little things that you think are important which cause you worry are not important. I now try to encourage other women to attend Mammograms.
Casa Joules and Playa Blanca
One weekend, Sharon Brown from Impact contacted me to ask if I would be interested in going to a villa in Lanzarote with Matthew for a short break, I said yes and a couple of days later everything was booked. Sharon arranged the flights and transfers in Lanzarote and I sorted my insurance and travel to the airport.
Matt was very worried about flying for the first time and because he has Asperger syndrome, the thought of being on a plane was very stressful for him. The support team at Impact helped Matt attend the GP to prescribe him with medication to help calm his nerves.
Matthew had been struggling to sleep and during the journey, I comforted him by saying a prayer which helped him to rest and finally fall asleep.
Lanzarote and the villa were so beautiful, we spent each day having a relaxing walk to the harbour, seeing the sky, sea and scenery each day were the highlight of the break, the market was also really good where you could buy volcanic rock and souvenirs.
We spent most days relaxing and spent some time sunbathing on a sun lounger on the beach, there was a moment where I looked at Matthew and said to him, “we both needed a holiday didn’t we” – I don’t think we had realised until this moment, we were looking for a walking holiday but what we needed was a sunshine holiday and that’s what we got.”
Matt: “We managed to recharge our batteries and I had almost lost myself, but the break away in the Villa helped me to get my sense of humour and smile back… it was a holiday of a lifetime which we will never forget and what better company to spend it with than my mum”
Janine: “Our next trip will be Scarborough and we are looking forward to my daughter’s wedding in September – I was advised by the GP that the trip to Lanzarote would be really good for me and that it would help me to have a focus, and I have found that it has helped to have something to look forward to.
My mum and I have been attending weekly workshops through “Positive about Life Course” at the Cancer Support Centre and also “Look Good Feel Better” through Beauticians and various make up companies at Meadowhall, which has really helped us both – my mum has been to every appointment with me and I do not know what I would have done without her.”
Matt: “I look forward to continuing volunteering with Heeley City Farm and attending workshops through Impact Living and also helping out at a local church youth group.”
Janine: “I really appreciate how Impact have helped me and Matthew and I look forward to doing some volunteering for Impact Living and would love to do some fundraising for Impact in the future.”
Thank You to all who support Impact Living to enable vulnerable young people and their families, who are affected by Cancer and long-term chronic health conditions, have the much-needed time away that they need to recuperate.