12 May 2022

Michaelagh’s Story – Supporting Families Impacted By Cancer

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Michaelaghs family hugging and smiling in winter clothes in front of bonfire

Fighting Against Cancer Edinburgh (FACE) is one of our cancer funds based at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre of the Western General Hospital. Established in 1990, it provides the “little things” that make a difference to patients and families who have been affected by cancer.

Every year the FACE team takes children who have been impacted by cancer to Lapland, giving them a magical day where they meet the ‘real’ Santa. Unfortunately, the trip had to be cancelled in 2020 as a result of COVID restrictions, but the team was able to return again in 2021.

Michaela Broadbent, whose husband died in September 2021 from a brain tumour, travelled to Lapland with her sons Harry and Alexander. Here she shares her reflections of the trip.

“The gift of our trip to Lapland with John and the volunteers at FACE was once in a lifetime, especially after my two little boys lost their dad after a very long illness just a few months ago. The concept of bringing bereaved children to go meet Santa and spend a magical day in the Arctic was just beautiful, and very moving.

Michaelaghs son on snow mobile smiling

“My boys had such a wonderful, and memorable day, from watching us land among snow covered trees into Enontekio, take a snowmobile sleigh ride across a frozen lake, arriving at our Lapland village filled with twinkling fairy lights and lanterns, meeting reindeers among the snow, sitting in armchairs made entirely from ice in a snow igloo eating cookies and drinking hot berry juice, taking a husky dog sleigh ride, sledging under the night sky with snow falling, and of course, meeting “the real Santa” in his remote cabin in the forest – the day was stunning, beautifully planned and completely relaxed and the most fun my children (and me!) have had in a long time.”

“The memories we made through this trip to Lapland are ones that will last a lifetime, and for me, now form a very special moment from my motherhood with my boys. As a solo parent, having an extra set of hands to help me with my boys through our volunteer helper for the day meant that for once, I could actually get on that sledge, relax a little, and play with my kids rather than just have to “do it all”. The thoughtfulness of that meant so much, and my children had such a lovely time experiencing it all with a mum who got stuck into the activities just as much as they did for the day!

Santa at Lapland

“It’s hard to find the right words to thank John and FACE for the gift of this trip and the memories that came with it, woven in with my boys’ memories of their dad – they felt close to him that day knowing that he would have wanted them to take this special trip which not all children get to experience – but from the bottom of my heart, we are so grateful for the kindness and care that was shown to us through this magical, wonderful day and we think FACE is just amazing putting this together for children and their families each year. Thank you so much.”

Michaelagh has also written a book called “My Daddy is My Superhero” which is intended to act as a starting point for conversations with children about serious illness and loss.

A huge well done and thanks to John Mcaulay and all the FACE volunteers who make this day happen and make it so special for families and for sharing this story with us.

FACE is a cancer fund held by NHS Lothian Charity. It was established in 1990 and is based at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre of the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. The money raised through FACE provide support that makes a difference to patients and families who have been affected by cancer. Find out more: https://www.face.scot/

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