• About

    Never Alone was launched in September 2010 by Gemma Firth. This is her story...

    Hi and welcome to Never Alone

    Thank you so much for visiting Never Alone, I hope you join our family and find the support that you need.

    I set Never Alone up in April 2010 and launched the website in September 2010 after my husband, Mark was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was a complete shock and totally out of the blue. Mark had been showing the usual signs of a cold, but with a really sore nose and when he coughed a sore neck. He felt a lump in his neck so we went to the doctors but it was diagnosed as a raised gland (as that’s just what it looked like) and an infection in his nose. Despite 2 weeks of antibiotics the gland hadn’t gone down, so we went back to the doctors. Thankfully our doctor ordered some blood screenings followed by an ultrasound of Marks neck to ensure there was nothing sinister going on. It was at this point that they discovered 10 lumps in his neck and the following scans showed that he had lumps on both sides of his neck, under his arms and also a large mass in his chest about the size of a grapefruit that was causing a persistent cough.

    To say we were both shocked is an understatement. We had just celebrated Mark’s 30th birthday 3 months before and were looking forward to the next stage of our lives together. Suddenly we were hit with something neither of us saw coming… I’m not sure there’s anything that can prepare you for that type of news.

    It’s one of those things “that doesn’t happen to you” and we found ourselves asking what I can only assume to be that usual questions… “how did I not realise before?”… “how can this happen?” … “What could I have done to prevent it?” … “why me/us?” etc.. etc..

    Following the initial thoughts, I automatically shutdown – on the outside I adopted the role of supporter/carer, asking the right questions and comforting my loved one. On the inside I went into complete shock and couldn’t believe/didn’t want to believe, what I’d just been told.

    Additional Pressures

    To add to the “stress” Mark and I decided to try IVF, as we were about to start on this journey prior to his diagnosis, in June 2010. I had my doubts, was it a wise idea to do it not knowing what to expect from Mark’s treatment? Was I strong enough to put myself under more pressure? However my mind was made up when Mark said that it would give him something positive to look forward to. All I wanted to do was make it as easy and as painless a process for him as I could, aside from doing the chemotherapy myself. So we went ahead and tried IVF. I had 3 excellent embryos and 1 was used.

    Unfortunately, more bad news, the process was unsuccessful and to say I was devastated would be an understatement. It was at this point that I think the news about Mark and our attempt of getting pregnant failing hit me. At the point of Mark’s diagnosis I wasn’t thinking about myself, I would worry about me later and now, I still couldn’t collapse, I needed to remain strong to get Mark through it. We could try again later, when he was well.

    Sounds easy but trust me it really wasn’t. I had nights when all I wanted to do was scream, cry, hit something, or just get lost doing something else, my brain was active the whole time. What if the treatment doesn’t work? What if this is just all a really bad dream? What if it goes and then comes back? Work issues, personal issues etc… etc… constantly going round and round in my head.

    Although I had (and still have) an amazing support network around me, which I know I was very fortunate to have, something I just wanted to talk to someone who understood how I was feeling but who wasn’t going to keep asking me how I was feeling, did I still feel the same etc…

    In all honesty I’ve never had so many people around me, supporting me, and yet felt so alone.

    So in June 2010 I made the decision to set up Never Alone. It is to be a site which will offer exactly that service to other supporters/carers. A place for you to go to without having to leave your loved one/s alone. Somewhere you can get away from everything, talk to someone about how you’re feeling and then change the subject and not discuss it again unless you want to. You have things going on with you as well but you don’t want to burden your loved one with it, they have enough to deal with, but you do need to off load and this is the place to do it.

    And now…

    Mark has been in remission for 3 years now which is amazing and we know we are very lucky. He was truly an inspiration throughout with his attitude towards his treatment.

    However even though he is 3 years clear it is still very much in the backs of our minds that it could come back and if he has night sweats or starts feeling really tired, I instantly think it’s back.

    Once you’re loved on has been diagnosed with cancer (or any illness), even if they manage to beat it, it never leaves you completely. Never Alone is also designed to continue to support you not only whilst your loved one is ill but afterwards too.

    Thank you

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, please share yours in the diary section of this site if you feel comfortable doing so, and remember: Take care of you too…

    I really hope you feel supported here at Never Alone, you are so important and special to your families and friends and a true inspiration.

    Gemma xxxx