Amanda's story | Education Support Partnership

Amanda's story

Further Education teacher Amanda was literally struggling to keep a roof over her family's head whilst undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She turned to our grants service and we were able to help with an emergency payment to repair her roof.  

Amanda has worked in further education since 1997 working with people with learning difficulties and disabilities and loved her job. In 2001, after 5 years of studying she achieved her dream of becoming a qualified teacher.

In 2002 Amanda met Lee - the man who was to become her husband.  Lee was working as a Classroom Support Assistant and they shared the same joy for the place in which they worked.  They eventually moved in together, but not long after that he became ill. After spending a year trying to find out what was wrong, he was eventually diagnosed with a chronic form of fibromyalgia (a long-term condition that causes severe pain all over the body). He tried to return to work but the pain meant that he couldn't sit or stand for long, or even concentrate on what people were saying and he became very depressed. Amanda has cared for him as best she could while working full time.

In 2015 Amanda gave birth to their beautiful daughter, Nell, who brought them both so much joy and happiness.  Amanda knew she would have to go back to work quite quickly as the only wage earner. 

After returning to work from maternity leave an opportunity came up for Amanda to become Assistant Head of Maths, English and Foundation Learning. This promotion meant that she could at last enjoy her career and feel a little more financially stable. In September 2018 another opportunity arose when Amanda was invited to cover the Head of Foundation Learning for 3 months whilst her boss had an operation. She jumped at the chance and loved it.

Then on the 6th December 2018 everything in her life changed when Amanda found out that she had breast cancer. At the age of 41 Amanda had been diagnosed with Triple Negative Stage 3 Grade 3 breast cancer.  This type of cancer is rare and has a high re-occurrence rate.

She had a mastectomy in December 2018 and suffered some complications, then after a short break started chemotherapy in February 2019. Suddenly she was transported into a world of daily hospital appointments for scans, biopsies, results, blood tests, surgery, aftercare, physiotherapy, regular drainage and of course dealing with friends and family. Mentally Amanda was at rock bottom – desperately worried about who was going to look after her little family if the worst happened; would she be constantly looking for new lumps and wondering when it would come back? How would they cope financially?

Amanda had to find the inner strength to focus on her daughter Nell and to be positive for her husband, and continue to fight the cancer. Nell is too young to understand what’s happening, but she knows mummy sometimes has poorly days and some good days when she can play and be a "normal mummy". She knows mummy has a scar and a prosthetic breast and lots of hospital appointments. She asked for a doctors set for her birthday in March so that she could help look after her mummy. Lee has also suffered mentally and physically due the stress. His benefits are also being reassessed and they may lose out financially again because of this.

Whilst having chemotherapy Amanda has suffered with extreme nausea and the only thing that helps is eating, so she’s having to buy more food and more clothes as her old ones don't fit, as well as chemotherapy hats. She has had the heating on more as she feels the cold so badly, and is having to pay someone to come and clean once a week and do ironing.

Having been through more trauma and stress than most people go through in a lifetime, there was still more bad news to come…

Earlier this summer, water started pouring into the living room – the hub of the house where Amanda and her family sit and watch TV, where Nell plays with her toys and the place they can access the garden. The leak came from the roof after torrential rain, soaking the carpet and swelling the insulation above, which if left untreated would have made the ceiling collapse completely. The insurance company wouldn’t cover the cost of the repair as it is a flat roof that is more than 15 years old so it is classed as general wear and tear. 

As life reached crisis point back in the summer, Amanda’s luck changed - she found Education Support Partnership and asked for our help. We were only too pleased to be able to pay to help get their roof repaired, enabling her, Lee and Nell to live in a safe, dry house and for Amanda to continue her recovery and get back to work.

As of 23 Sept 2019, Amanda is in a much better place. Her roof is now repaired and she has completed the last round of her chemotherapy. She still has some more treatment to come, but she can feel herself getting stronger and more positive each day and getting on with life, away from the daily hospital visits and treatment, determined to live her life and support her family.

As Amanda said herself: "thanks to Education Support Partnership, I can just concentrate on getting better now, finding the strength to get to work and look after our family, without worrying about the roof over our head – literally. I really can’t thank you enough."

What can you do?

To meet the rising demand for our grants service, we need your help. Can you support education staff in financial crisis by making a donation.