Published: 08:00, 15 December 2016
A mum who had to tell her children that both their parents had cancer has thanked a charity that’s supporting the family.
Christine Colyer is battling breast cancer and husband Brian, 56, has non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, after receiving their diagnoses just months apart.
The family, from Allington, was referred to Dandelion Time in West Farleigh, which supports children who have suffered traumatic experiences, by youngest son Daniel’s former school.
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Fifty-year-old Mrs Colyer, who also has children Sarah Colyer, 16, and Jon and Victoria Harris, 25 and 27 respectively, said: “Daniel was the one who brought us here. Allington Primary School had concerns about his transition to secondary school. Daniel was scared he wouldn’t have anyone to talk to there about his dad’s cancer treatment.”
Mr Colyer was diagnosed last December and initially his children seemed to be coping.
She said: “It was a huge shock. It’s the last thing you expect. We told the children just before Christmas. We were all shocked but Daniel seemed to take it on board and just asked what was going to happen.
“Brian’s chemo started in January and it became a normal part of our lives. Daniel ticked along and didn’t show any signs at home but luckily he was talking to a teaching assistant at school, who was a fantastic support.”
Daniel, now 12, and his mum attended Dandelion Time in July and September when they cooked, picked fruit, played games and mixed with other families, which boosted his confidence, gave him some escape and helped him settle into St Simon Stock School, Oakwood Park.
However, Mrs Colyer found out in February she too had cancer.
This time they kept it from the two younger children until the summer, when she had to have surgery. She said: “It was an immense shock.”
When Dandelion Time heard about the second diagnosis, staff offered the whole family 10 sessions.
Mr Colyer, a delivery driver, will have chemotherapy injections every other month for two years while Mrs Colyer is midway through a course of chemotherapy and needs radiotherapy and possibly more surgery.
Oldest son Jon Harris, an apprentice electrician, and friend George Tilbury did a sponsored head shave for Dandelion Time, the Kent Messenger’s Charity of the Year, at The Five Bells in Halling on Friday.
He said: “Mum always talks about how good Dandelion Time has been to the family and I wanted to do something for them in support of her.
“I hadn’t cut my hair since September and I usually get it cut every week. I was nervous, I’ve never been bald before, but it’s for a good cause.”
The evening raised almost £3,500 and when the fundraising total hits £6,000, landlady Samantha Thomas will also get her head shaved.
Christine Colyer said: “I’m proud of him for doing it. They call him Gorgeous Jon in the pub because he’s always touching his hair.
"We are overwhelmed by people’s generosity and so thrilled for Dandelion Time to be able to help other families.
“I can’t thank Dandelion Time enough for their kindness and compassion, I just can’t put it into words. You feel so looked after and loved from the moment you step in the door.
“They helped Daniel but deep down they also helped me.”
More by this authorSuz Elvey