A word that brings shivers to anyone. Everyone has been affected in some way by this dreadful disease. I say ‘disease’ but the word just doesn’t seem to fit, to me that seems that someone has put themselves at risk or tried chance at getting it, when in truth it can capture anyone at anytime, transforming their own world and everyone they know.
Every year I run the race for life and each year I am more overwhelmed with the vast number of women there supporting each other and trying to fight back. I must confess I am not a fan of running (that’s putting it a little lightly!) but what spurs me on is every time I pass someone I get to read another persons sign on their back. I get a glimpse at the harsh reality that cancer brings. It affects grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and children. No one is safe. However, what surprises me most is that it brings me new purpose and sense of happiness. In the last 40 years cancer survival has doubled in the UK, people are more aware and educated on what symptoms to look for and strangers are coming together and showing their support and love for those suffering and those caring for them.
When I was 7 years old my mum was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. At the time I thought my little world was crumpling down around me too fast for me to ever pick up the pieces or hold them in place. I had only heard the word cancer related to death and so automatically assumed my mum had been given the card of death. My parents decided it was important for both my brother and me to understand fully what was going on and the reality of how it would affect us. We were taught the basic science of it and what different treatments did but we were never fooled into thinking that it would one day just disappear. Ovarian cancer is one of the hardest to detect and so unfortunately we did not find it early enough and my mother was told she had 3 months. She spent a week in hospital after her operation and started chemo. I was always aware of when she was going to hospital or even for a check up and when I was having a bad day my mum would hold me close and explain every worry I had multiple times till I understood. We dealt with her illness as a family, supporting one another and preparing for what life may throw at us. That is the main thing I believe that helped me through it. I was not treated as a kid who couldn’t understand, I was an equal and my feelings mattered just as much. The 3 months past and she was still with us, as many friends said ‘still fighting on’ but my mum never saw it as a fight, she once told my dad that it was not her battle with cancer, it was her journey. That truly represented who my mum was, a selfless woman who accepted life as it came and was determined to help. She did this by participating in many drug trials to help find a cure and some of those drugs are now being used today and saving lives.
Sadly, 3 days before my 13th birthday my mum passed away. However, this was after many loving, happy years supporting us through every day life. I wanted to write this blog to explain the little things I never fully understood as a child and share my journey of acceptance and finding peace. I wanted to keep the memories alive as they are what I treasure and feel blessed to have. There has not been a day in the last 4 years after her death that I have not thought of her and there never will be a day that I do not, but now when I think of her I am filled with happiness and warmth. Grief never leaves you but it is how you deal with it that makes you a stronger person, never expect it to go but use it to make the most of life.