Telling your children you have TB can be a very difficult moment. They’re likely to be worried for you and you have to explain that they may have to undergo screening to ensure they do not have TB themselves. Luckily for Samara, who works at a supported accommodation project for homeless people, telling 12-year-old daughter Nevaeh about her illness was not as bad as she thought.
“I am really lucky. My husband, Marc, and my daughter were brilliant throughout it all. When we first found out that I had TB we were unsure whether or not to talk to her about it.
“Nevaeh is 12 and intelligent so we knew the first thing she was going to do was Google ‘TB’ and it was just about making sure she had the right information about it.
“I was actually diagnosed on Christmas Eve. I was given the news over the phone by my GP. He said it looks very much like it is TB and that I was booked to see a consultant on New Year’s Eve and… Merry Christmas! I spent the next seven days not knowing what it all meant.
“The doctors first thought my symptoms were asthma and I was given inhalers beforehand. I was diagnosed with pulmonary TB after numerous tests and referred to Blackburn Royal Hospital. When I found out it was TB I told my daughter it was a lung infection. She asked if it had a name and I said: ’It’s really long one. The easiest thing to call it is TB. I need to tell you quite a few things about it and I’d rather you listen to me than go away and look at stuff yourself because the internet doesn’t always have the correct facts.’
“Of course she was Googling! I knew that she had been Googling ‘lung cancer’ and all sorts of things like that as well. So I think it was definitely the lesser of two evils to tell her I had TB.”
“It’s quite aggressive treatment, though, and I was really poorly with it. I assume most people have the same sort of treatment. The Isoniazid (a TB antibiotic) made me feel worse than my TB symptoms.
“I ended up being off work for about 10 weeks because I lost a lot of weight, couldn’t eat, had a terrible rash. The TB team were brilliant. Everything that happened they managed to combat it with something else.
“When I went for my first check-up they realised I had been resistant to the medication, to one of the antibiotics. So the second round of treatment added another nine months. All in all my treatment is a 12-month process.”
Samara has always been very healthy, often running and exercising. That’s why she took on a fundraising challenge for TB Alert even during her treatment.
“GMTV were asking for ‘tough mums’ to apply to do this Tough Mudder event. They wanted people who had a bit of a story. Feeling a bit sorry for myself and thinking ‘I could have done that six months ago’ I thought ‘well why can’t I do it now?’
“I wanted the opportunity to show my family that I can be strong again, that I can beat this; that TB is not going to debilitate me.
Samara really is a tough mother, she has completed her TB treatment and has raised hundreds of pounds for TB Alert too!