At the age of twenty, when most people would be in full time studies at university or in employment, have free time with friends, have a hobby like playing football and possibly moving out of their family home into their own place or with a girlfriend, Callum’s life was put on pause. None of this happened for Callum.
When Callum was twenty, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. This meant that suddenly, because no one else was living in their home or near-by, Callum became his mother’s full-time carer, while she underwent life-altering treatment. When Callum began all the cooking, cleaning and shopping, while being constantly available to help his mother to the bathroom, his friends told him that his caring role was not a proper job and they gradually stopped contacting him.
Over the years her cancer began to spread to other parts of her body. Callum’s father, who had previously separated from his mother, tried to protect him from this knowledge, but Callum felt he knew things were getting worse. In 2015, after he’d been caring for his mother for four years, a district nurse referred him for some support as a carer. He is so grateful she did, as a year later his mother died.
At this point, although his mother left him the house in her will, there was a threat he would lose his home as well. His mother - who he had spent every moment of the day with for five years - had now gone: Who was he now? Who could he turn to? What would he do now? What was the purpose of his life?
Luckily with the carers’ support, Callum was able to fight for his home, which he won a year later. He was then able to grieve for the loss of his mother; in the process he fell into a depression. He is now, at twenty-nine, ready to tackle life again. He is training to be a gardener and has a part time job on an allotment which he very much enjoys. He is losing weight, building friendships, and hoping to learn to drive soon. It was on pause while caring for his mum. Although it is for sad reasons, he now has his life back and can focus on his needs and wishes. Callum’s time is now.
Callum: “Life was hard when I started caring for my ma. I lost my own life, but I loved her and hated to see the pain she was in. When she died and there was the threat I would become homeless I was unable to grieve for her properly. It all hit me when my housing was sorted and those were pretty much my darkest days. I realised how alone I was. Just me and my dog Poppy. However, I am ready to face life again now: I really want to become a black belt in a type of martial art!”