In early 2014, my mother was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. My father was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer later that year and died 5 months later. My mother outlived her initial prognosis but died in early 2017.
Although many people have cared for loved ones at a much younger age than I did, I noticed some interesting trends in the way society interacts with and supports younger carers.
Since my parents died, I have spent time as a palliative care volunteer, providing support to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. I’m now a director on the Board of Hospice Volunteers South, the not-for-profit organisation that coordinates palliative care volunteers in Southern Tasmania. I’m also a director on the Board of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Tasmania, a not-for-profit organisation that supports and advocates for older Tasmanians on a range of issues, including aged care and palliative care.
In recent years I have written pieces for Tasmania’s major newspaper The Mercury on issues such as the importance of self-care for younger carers, and the dangers associated with avoiding the word “death” in conversation. I’ve also spoken at events and conferences on my observations as a younger carer and worked with not-for-profit organisations on projects aimed at supporting young people in caring roles.