My daughter gave me the strength to beat cancer ... because she had beaten it herself
Every mother and daughter is close but Carol and Abigail Mallion share a unique bond. For they have both beaten cancer - inspired by the other in their battle for survival.
"When Abigail was diagnosed she just carried on with life" says Carol " And I though, it a little girl can cope with this, then so can I" Abigail or Abbey as she prefers to be known - was just 17 months when a tumour was discovered in her chest. Carol spent weeks by her daughters bedside willing her to pull though, after doctors operated to remove the growth which had attached itself to other organs and her spine. "She was originally diagnosed as having asthma" says Carol, 44 "But it soon became clear it was more than that" "Abbey had the operation at Alder Hey and underwent 6 months of chemotherapy of course there were time when she was very poorly and like any parent I'd have given anything for it to be me the. But most of the time she would be up playing, laughing or singing" "And it was this I remembered when I learnt I had cancer" Abbey was six and a half when Carol discovered she was ill. "I was 36 and my little boy Frazer who's now 10, was just one" says Carol from Meols. I had just returned to work part time and I was finding I was tired all the time" But it was a routine visit to the dentist that first alerted her to the possibility that it might be more than just the difficulty of juggling a young family and a job.
"The dentist noticed a wobbly tooth at the back, but said I was probably just a little run down, I was busy and had just had Frazer" But when she went back 6 months later the tooth was so loose it had to be removed alarm bells started ringing. "By this stage I was getting very tired and was starting to be sick on occasions and I was complaining of pain in my neck" " It became noticeable that I couldn't move or lift my neck, but I kept on thinking I was run down" adds Carol who works for Maritime Housing's allocations department. "The tooth socket has not healed so my dentist encouraged me to go to my GP's because he thought I might have glandular fever, but all the blood tests came back negative. So my dentist Paul Sherrard, called me in to take an x-ray and then called in a colleague straight away to look at it". Immediately they urged Carol to go to the Dental Hospital in Liverpool straight away, where she spent a morning having numerous x-rays before being referred to Consultant Simon Rogers. "who as luck would have it was there then" adds Carol.
But there her luck temporarily ended. "Armed with the x-ray results and a letter from my dentist, he told me he was 99.9% certain I had cancer"
The next day Carol was admitted to the Maxillofacial Unit (situated on the old Fazakerely Site) where she was diagnosed she had a tumour in one of her sinus glands. "It was really frightening , I was young , I had two children. That was probably the only time I broke down" "Then I though back to what Abbey had gone through, and Simon said " I will make sure that when you walk out of here for the last time you will look like you do now and he has kept his promise"
The first operation was to remove the cancer which had spread as far as Carols left eye took 13 hours. Surgeons had to take away the tumour and transplant veins, tissue and muscle. Part of her hip has been used to rebuild Carols face and jaw and she has undergone radiotherapy. Carol has had five operations in total which have included giving her dental implants. "A substantial part of my face had to be removed and I was worried" says Carol "Its very invasive. I was concerned what I was going to look like, whether people would react the same to me. I knew I would change, but would they?" "I was also concerned how the children would react to me?" But, like the rest of the family they reacted as only they could, with love and support. "Abbey in particular was full of love" "She just kept saying don't worry mummy you'll be fine" "She couldn't remember what she had been through but she was very supportive. She'd say things like "I don't care what you look like mummy. I will love you" "We do have a bond that a lot of others mothers don't have, especially when the childs 14. Don't get me wrong, she's a teenager and we share all those normal experiences too, but that's when I think how lucky I am to be able to have that. Abbey and I are in a special club - that's what we say. "I'm not overly religious but I do say that we must have been chosen to go through this and inspire each other and other people"
Carol had her last operation in April and says "In my heart now I feel everything's okay" "Had Abbey not gone through what she had I might have reacted totally differently. But she gave me the strength to get through it"
Liverpool Echo 09 May 2007