In 2011 Five sisters had a call that they will never forget.
Their Mother Jane Peters, 71 from Oxfordshire, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Here is their story and how three of the Sisters have turned a nightmare into a legacy by creating Box of Hugs!
When was your Mother diagnosed?
Our Mum was diagnosed eight years ago. She had a seizure on her first day in a new job and was rushed to the hospital. A month later MRI scan results revealed mum had two tumours on her brain. One was the size of an orange.
Her type of tumour was called a Meningioma. Even though it was extremely serious, thankfully it was benign. It wasn’t cancer.
What were your Mum’s symptoms?
The seizure was the most obvious but we later realised that mum had become increasingly agitated by little things before her seizure. We put it down to stress at work. She later mentioned she’d been having some headaches.
How is your Mum doing now?
She’s made an amazing recovery. Despite being left with epilepsy and other side effects, these problems have not got in the way of her enjoying life. She now runs every morning, walks twice a day, volunteers in a charity shop three days a week, is ‘chief dog walker’ for daughter Sophie, helps out with Granny duties, and is always there for her neighbours whether it’s painting walls or tackling overgrown wisteria! Mum has been seizure-free for nearly two years now (controlled by medication).
This has made a big difference to mum as she can start driving again.
How did you feel when your mum was diagnosed?
Scared as we’d never heard of a meningioma before. We had no idea of the severity or whether it was treatable. You never think anything like this will happen to someone so close to you. It also came as a shock as mum hadn’t told us about any of her symptoms until her first seizure.
“We’d never heard of a meningioma before”
Did you find support for you all?
As a big family of 5 sisters, and mum and dad, we were lucky to have each other. Our Dad was an amazing support to us all throughout. We read up about mum’s illness on The Brain Tumour Charity website. It helped us understand more about mum’s condition and what it all meant.
“We read up about mum’s illness on The Brain Tumour Charity website”
What is the toughest challenge you have all faced since your mother’s diagnosis and recovery?
Probably mum’s vulnerability and impulsive decision making which has got her into difficulties over the past few years (a side effect of the tumour). It’s meant we’ve had to spend a fair bit of time rectifying the issues. Having to be honest with mum and remind her that she has these side effects – without offending or upsetting her – has been tough. From mum’s perspective the biggest challenge was losing her driving licence. It took away her independence to visit her daughters (all over the country) and take quick trips to the local garden centre. However, she’s managed to overcome this and is now a pro at using buses!
Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses like your Mum’s?
- Try and stay positive.
- Lean on family and friends for support.
- Do your reading. There’s a lot of information online. Whilst it can be scary to read, it definitely helps to understand the condition.
- I’d also advise getting time with the surgeon who will be operating on your family member. We asked Mum’s surgeon to speak to us all directly to understand how the operation had gone and what to expect next. Again, whilst it was horrible to hear, his honest views were important to enable us to prepare for what would come next.
What is Box of Hugs?
Box of Hugs is an online gifting company that allows you to send gifts to family and friends when you can’t be by their side. Whether you want to say happy birthday, thank you, get well soon, or thinking of you, there’s a Box of Hugs for every occasion.
Why did you set up Box Of Hugs?
We (sisters) spent many hours together while mum was in treatment. During this time we realised how difficult it was to send appropriate ‘thinking of you gifts’ when you can’t be by someone’s side. Inspired by our chats, and realising life was too short, we (sisters Lucy, Sophie and Anna) quit our jobs to launch Box of Hugs.
What is in the box?
Box of Hugs launched Jane’s Brain Boxes. The new collection launched to celebrate mum’s (Jane) recovery and includes two different Box of Hugs gifts.