Netball helped me laugh again

Generation Games Officer Hayley sadly lost her dad to a brain tumour in 2016. Here she tells how her love of netball helped keep her going…

A massive shock

Dad was 56 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour after having a seizure in August 2014. It came as a massive shock to all the family as you think ‘why us’? He was told straight away he would never be cured but the consultants were hopeful they could manage it through treatment. He was so strong, he never complained and was still the life and soul of the party.

It wasn’t until October 2015 that everything took a turn for the worse. Dad had a huge seizure and was in hospital for a month. He lost all feeling in his left arm and had to learn how to use his left leg again. We became his carers and as a family all pulled together to help my mum. The man we knew and loved as Tich the “big man” was fading in front of us and for me that was the worst time as I felt this disease was destroying my Dad. This took a massive toll on me. I sat with Dad everyday making sure he was ok and doing chores. Plus I had a three month old baby who wasn’t sleeping, a three year old and a house to run. I felt like I was constantly drained and in a bad mood.

Should I keep going to netball?

I love netball and exercise with a passion but felt that if I did go to netball, was I being selfish? Would people think I’m a bad person for not being there? Then I realised in order for me to be there for Dad and my family I had to look after myself too. I had to be strong, but that hour of netball a week was my release from normality. It allowed me to get rid of built up tensions and helped to clear my head.

If you or a family member is dealing with an illness or disease then take some time for yourself. Go for a walk or if you’ve given up a sport or activity due to family constraints please don’t hide away. Take control of the situation, get out there and pick it up again. Cancer is a suffocating disease. It swallows up everything in its path and it’s not just one person it affects. It affects everyone in different ways. Exercise made a huge difference to me in how I coped during Dad’s illness and more so when he died in February 2016 after battling for 18 months.

There is no end to grief. It is something that stays with you forever when you’ve lost someone, but having netball in my life really makes that difference. I’m more sociable when I’m around my netball friends and I laugh (yes, if someone has died you are allowed to laugh). But most of all I feel like me.

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