This week in Banbury, we transform our first ever home AND garden for an incredible family and their two amazingly strong and courageous little girls. Claudia and Leonie are young carers for their mother Donna who suffered loss of vision after a cardiac arrest and also has breast cancer.
Donna, 44, is a teaching assistant in a primary school. One day out of the blue, she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest, then slipped into a coma. Upon waking in hospital, Donna was faced with the stark realisation that she had lost her peripheral vision and had to be registered blind. She later was diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone chemo, radiotherapy and surgery. Her young daughters Claudia, 12 and Leonie, 9, took it upon themselves to help care for their mother – making dinner, washing up, laundry, and helping with medication. They also become their mum’s eyes when out walking and have to help guide her and tell her where to walk, and where not to walk.
Until 3 years ago, Donna would have described herself as an ‘active mum, always on the go, with quite a driving force to get things done’. But since October 2015, the girls’ caring role became more demanding when Donna started undergoing serious cancer treatment, which included chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery to remove her left breast. Even now, every three weeks Donna has a visit from a nurse to perform injections and monitor her reactions. Donna feels immense sadness and guilt about how home life has changed for the girls; how they ‘miss out on being little girls’.
So it was time for us to try and bring a little respite to the whole family and give them a home and garden that works for all their needs and as well as give the girls some space to enjoy some downtime whilst still being able to keep an eye on Mum.
The results were incredible! What an honour to be able to help out with this inspiring, close-knit family. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did making it!