The surgery needed to treat her salivary gland cancer would cause facial paralysis, Adam’s mum told him. He didn’t really know what to expect…
When my mum first got diagnosed with cancer, I felt a mix of emotions: sadness, helplessness, anger and love. I knew my emotions were nothing compared to hers, so I figured I would put on a brave face and take it as it comes. You can’t change what is.
When the treatment and surgery started I did find it difficult to cope. I was in constant worry about the outcome of each doctor’s visit and hospital trip. However, the kindness and patience of the hospital staff and doctors meant I knew she was in good hands. I knew I could always talk to my mum about the cancer, but sometimes I did not know what to say. Mum had told me before the surgery that she would be left with facial palsy, but I wasn’t sure what that meant and how she would look. After the surgery, I knew she felt embarrassed about her face and how she looked. I told her that if people can’t love you for who you are then forget about them, they’re not worth your time.
Other people would always ask me, ‘How’s your mum?’ I would always answer, ‘She’s pulling through, keeping her head up (no pun intended),’ and other broad generalisations, because she always was. She was still the same happy upbeat person, she just seemed more tired and maybe a little bit more irritable. I was always willing to help mum any way I could. Even the less fun jobs, such as treating the wound, were a pleasure to do as I knew I was helping not just with what I was doing, but by being there with her.
If I knew someone who had a loved one with facial palsy, I would tell them to be as supportive as they could be, and always remember it is only the outside that has changed – and not even that much. However, personal appearance is important and especially in young adults, so it will undoubtedly have an effect on their self-esteem. Just remember you can never fully understand what they are going through, but you can be there for them and support them when they need it. The level of care the NHS provided was excellent, not only the initial surgery and treatment, but even after a year they are still offering facial reconstructive surgery.
Any son wishes his mum lived a happy and stress-free life. Unfortunately, they are mums, so there is no stress-free life! All their child can do is try and be there as much as possible and give support, love and attention when it is needed, and just as importantly, give space, time and patience when required.
You can read mum Ali’s story here.
Disclaimer: Please note that views expressed are person’s own and should not be considered a recommendation of particular medical treatments, therapies or surgeries. We would always advise you seek advice from a health professional with experience in facial palsy who can assess your individual needs.
Last reviewed: 26-10-2016 || Next review due: 26-10-2018