‘It feels like we are missing out on precious time’ - life under lockdown with terminal cancer
PUBLISHED: 19:00 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:47 27 March 2020
A mum from west Suffolk who has incurable cancer had been planning special trips with her family in the time she has left - but then the coronavirus outbreak struck.
Clare Skinner, 31, who has four children aged between three and 12, has terminal cervical cancer and was given a time frame of 12 -18 months left when she was told the disease had returned in November last year.
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As time was running out, the family launched a fundraising campaign to pay for days out and activities together, with the ultimate trip being one last holiday in Disneyland Paris.
But Clare, an architect by profession who is married to Douglas, is now isolating at home in Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds, as her health puts her in the high risk category for coronavirus.
She said: “Lockdown has been tough. We had lots planned for the spring and also, with getting our car back on the road, we were going to hit the ground running and make as many memories as we could.
“And it does feel like we’re missing out on precious time. But we have to do what’s best for everyone, and certainly keeping me housebound will hopefully give us that chance to make memories after lockdown if my body is still physically able to.”
She added: “We are still keeping the idea of going to Disneyland later in the year, but that’s all dependant on the state of the economy and if places are able to reopen and recover.”
But Clare said it was “great” having the children at home and, although they are also doing schoolwork, they are “just enjoying time together”.
What is life like under lockdown for the Skinner family?
Clare said they were “very lucky” to have a big garden so the kids have a space to play and spread out in.
“The children have all helped me plant up some seeds in the garden, they helped build their trampoline so they have that to enjoy, they have also got a rota where each helps me or their dad cook dinner and they can pick the meal they want to cook,” she said. “I even got them painting fence panels in our back garden.”
Isolation for Clare means her husband is the only one going out to get supplies and is taking the necessary precautions to prevent the virus entering their home.
Clare said: “He takes a bottle of hand antibacterial gel with him, and upon return he strips at the door, puts his clothes straight into the washing machine, and goes straight to the shower without touching anything.
“Almost a military operation but needs must - he has to wash the outside off of him. As we know our house is virus free, it can only come in by him venturing out. And as a family of six we’re obviously going to need supplies quite often.”
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Another, unexpected aspect of lockdown has been Douglas’ dad moving into their home so they can support him.
He had been having to isolate himself due to age and health - and Clare had been batch cooking to stock up his freezer - but after getting stuck in his bath he is now living with them.
“It is not logistically ideal as our house is quite small, but he’s family and its a lot easier and safer to have him here with us where we can make sure he’s looked after rather then all alone locked down miles from us.
“I’m hoping that my children will learn that in times of need if your able to offer help, this can mean so much to others.”
Some good news
Amid all the doom and gloom, Clare has some uplifting news to share.
Yesterday morning she received a call from her oncologist to say that she has had a good reaction to chemotherapy.
The cancer in her neck has gone and isn’t visible on the scan, the same with her chest and the cancer in her lymph nodes has shrunk.
She said: “I’m feeling quite positive. I’ve always kept myself active and healthy and kept brain and home a positive place to live. Like the children all picked me some flower seeds for Mother’s Day and have planted them, knowing when they grow they can give me a bunch of flowers with all their efforts to keep them growing.
“I will now be going forward to have three more cycles of chemo at three weeks apart and have another scan at the end of that. That’s now our next mini milestone to work towards.”
She said the cancer is still incurable, but “it’s just all about pushing it back”.
•Their Gofundme page is nearly halfway to the £5,000 target, but Clare said under the current climate they are not pushing the fundraising.
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