"To go away, face her fears, and have such an amazing time means she has a point of reference next time she goes into a new situation and feels overcome with anxiety."- Petra's mum
With everything going on at home, it was a big deal for Petra to leave it behind for a week.
Her sister, Rowan, has been in and out of hospital over the last ten years. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 and a brain tumour at three, relapsed a few years later, and later diagnosed with a foot tumour.
As a result, she had to learn to walk again, and her recovery has been blighted with medical issues like shingles, sepsis, and multiple fractures.
Their mum, Beth, says it meant Petra was left to get on with things.
“It was very difficult during those years to make any kind of plans. If we tried to go away on a holiday, our plans often had to be changed and cancelled at the last minute," explains Beth.
"Medical treatment like Rowan’s meant that there was a lot of uncertainty. This undoubtedly impacted on the other children.”
"I can honestly say I think it was the best trip of my life."
Petra almost didn’t come on the siblings trip. New situations can cause her to feel so worried it makes her physically sick.
“It stems from anxiety that things are going to go wrong at home if I go away, as a result of all the upheavals that have occurred in the last few years. I was in a complete state and thought I’d made a big mistake agreeing to go.”
There were tears as she said goodbye to her mum at the train station.
For Beth, the trip was a chance to let Petra know she understands things aren’t always easy at home. It was recognition of the toll taken on her mental health and acknowledging her role as a young carer in need of her own time.
"It was a real ‘holiday from her head'. Petra came back empowered, confident and happy." - mum, Beth
Beth saw the trip as an opportunity for Petra to be around other young people who understand what a cancer diagnosis means. Her school friends don’t always get what her life is like.
"To go away, face her fears, and have such an amazing time means she has a point of reference next time she goes into a new situation and feels overcome with anxiety,” she believes.
Petra agreed that the trip was a ‘huge help’ in giving her the permission to switch off for a week and just enjoy herself.
“I made some lovely friends and did things I didn’t think I could do. I had so much fun. I walked up a waterfall and lost my wellies and survived to tell the tale. I can honestly say I think it was the best trip of my life.”
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