Heather’s brave the shave for QEQM Viking unit after loss of dad, stepdad and brother to cancer

Heather will brave the shave for the Viking Day Unit at QEQM

In the last six years Heather Taylor, from Ramsgate, has lost three close family members to cancer.

The 26-year-old, who is a health and social care trainer, has seen the disease take her brother, stepdad and dad.

Heather threw herself into her work as a way of coping but in February the enormity of her grief finally hit.

She said: “In the last eight years my family have lost my brother Peter Taylor aged 50, to lung and brain cancer in 2014, my stepdad John Jeffery, aged 68, to Oesophageal cancer in 2017 and my father Alan Taylor, aged 75, to lung and brain cancer in 2018.

“It has been a really tough road for my whole family and affected me greatly, causing me to suffer a mental breakdown in February.

“My brother’s death affected me and then my stepdad, who I lived with and helped care for. And then I was 23 when my dad passed away. He was my best friend. I just threw myself into my work to train staff who look after people with dementia. I was training back to back, there was no down time to evaluate what had happened.

“There was such a short space between each death that there had been no chance to grieve. In February it just hit and I ended up going to the hospital. I told the psychiatrist ‘it’s not grief’ but I was just trying to suppress it.

John top left, Peter bottom left and Alan on the right

“With therapy, a change of medication and my wonderful family and partner I am now a lot better. Lockdown helped to give me time to think about everything.”

Now Heather wants to do something to help the unit that showed so much compassion for Peter, John and Alan while they went through chemotherapy.

The three were treated at QEQM’s Viking Day Unit and the care of the staff helped make a difficult time a little easier.

Heather said: “The Viking day Unit staff were always so passionate about their work and always made hard chemotherapy treatments that little bit easier.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back to them but never knew how. Then I was scrolling on Facebook one day and saw a “brave the shave” advert and it just clicked!

“I wanted to do something that would warrant a big outcome and I thought with the head shave, it grows back but also a lot of people have to go through hair loss without having a choice. It really affected my dad, he was very proud of his hair. When he lost it he was gutted and when it grew back he was so happy.

“It is something minuscule I can do to give back to the unit that has done so much for my family.”

Heather will undergo her head shave on Saturday, October 3 at the home of one of her sisters. She plans to video or live stream the event.

A fundraising page set up last week has already raised £710. Heather said: “which I am completely stunned by. I never imagined I’d get past £200 let alone this much!”

Heather is doing the fundraiser through the East Kent Hospitals Charity which means she can be assured the funds will go straight to the Viking unit.

Find the fundraiser here