Claire on diagnosis

Claire playing Lego with her son
Claire playing Lego with her son

Claire was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2007. ‘I just thought I might have to have my tonsils out or something. Cancer didn’t even cross my mind.’

Ever since Claire was diagnosed a Macmillan nurse has been there for support and to make her life that little bit easier.

Claire's story

I’d had a lump on my neck for several weeks and thought it was either tonsillitis or swollen glands or something. It was actually my birthday and I’d been putting my make-up on, looking at my face in the mirror and I noticed the lump was very pronounced. It was then that I kind of thought, oh, maybe it’s time to get that lump checked out.

Cancer was the last thing on my mind, right up to going to the cancer clinic... because I didn’t actually know it was a cancer clinic I was going to... I naively still thought I may have to have my tonsils out or something. So it never really got to that point – it didn’t cross my mind.

I didn’t know there was a lump at the base of my tongue until they did a CT scan. So this lump here was a secondary sign that there were two.

It’s funny because, once the doctor told me the diagnosis, I wasn’t scared anymore. I think not knowing is worse. There’s a fear of the unknown. Once I knew, I said, ‘Okay, what are we going to do about it?’

As soon as I was diagnosed, Liz the Macmillan nurse put me straight onto one of the benefits that isn’t means tested. So that was quite good, that’s been in place for us, which helps a lot.

Liz literally just gave me the paperwork to sign. She put all the details in, got all the doctors to write what they needed to, and that was it.

For me to come and live in Cambridgeshire, and straight away from my diagnosis having the Macmillan nurse there – I thought it was just unbelievable really. And there was a Macmillan nurse there every step of the way. I feel very lucky to have had such support.

It’s priceless, what Macmillan means to us. I don’t know anywhere else that we would get that support that we’re getting. I don’t know anywhere else where I could have someone at my beck and call. Someone that can help sort our finances, and help sort my family out.

Sadly, Claire died in February 2015. We'd like to thank her family for allowing us to continue sharing her story, so others can benefit from Macmillan's support.

Claire sits on her sofa

Watch: all about Claire's experiences

Watch: all about Claire's experiences