Mum’s Perspective

22 March 2020:  COVID19 social isolation and also…….

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s Mother’s Day!

I’ve spent so much time with my own thoughts; wouldn’t it be nice to invite my Mum in as a guest writer, especially since we won’t be getting together due to social isolation. We don’t realise what we put our loved ones through with this disease and I think it’s good to share perspectives. Other parents out there may also find this comforting. So here are words from the heart of my lovely Mum:

“The year started off really badly. First day back to work after Christmas and Nikki was in a car accident on her way in after having a cold all Christmas. She suffered whiplash injuries which required regular physiotherapy. A few weeks later she discovered the worst…….
March 2017: it was a terrible day for us all. Strangely enough my other daughter and granddaughter were with me at the time. It was around tea-time when my phone rang. It was Nikki. The worst news followed. The worst a Mother could have. My world collapsed in a moment when Nikki said the words “Mum I’ve got stage 3 breast cancer”.

Mum (Carol) has been a regular fundraiser for
Breast Cancer Now since my diagnosis

NO! NO! NO! Not my daughter.

This is not happening.
She’s too young.

She has children.

No! No! No! It should be me.

I’ve had my life.

I’ve seen my grandchildren grow up.

It should be me, not her.
Not my daughter.

Feel? I didn’t know how or what to feel. I wanted to be with Nikki all of the time. I wanted to guard her, take care of her, hug her, protect her and make this thing go away. But I couldn’t. As a Mother I felt helpless. Useless. I couldn’t mend this with a “kiss it better” or some “magic cream”.

I felt like I was having an “out of body experience”. Like I was watching this horror, this nightmare and I couldn’t do a thing about it. I couldn’t stop it. All I could do was be there for her.

Nikki had to have 6 months of intense chemotherapy. The cancer was outside of the parameters of the tumour and also in her lymph nodes. Throughout the chemo treatment she was in and out of hospital because of her neutrophils becoming too low. She also developed sepsis….which I knew nothing about until much later. That’s Nikki though: always trying to protect Mum from bad things and not wanting to bother me. I understand why though. She didn’t need a blubbering heap to cope with on top of what she was going through. I tried to do my crying in private and I know Nikki did too.

I went with Nikki for her 2nd chemotherapy session and couldn’t believe the cocktail of drugs being carefully measured, checked and placed on a tray. There were 9 big syringes of 3 different drugs waiting to be pumped into my daughter. I was horrified. But Nikki being Nikki took it in her stride. As an experienced skier, mountain biker, half marathon runner and horse rider she’d always been a bit of a “white knuckle rider” and I hoped she would hold on just as tight with this challenge.
Next was the mastectomy. A harsh procedure. I know Nikki suffered mentally and physically but has come through it well. I think she’s bionic.
The last hurdle was the radiotherapy. I went with Nikki to her last session and then she rang that bloody bell. End of Treatment. After that it was mental and physical healing.

I know Nikki has to take medication and has made a lot of changes to her lifestyle to try and reduce her risks as best she can. I have never seen anyone with such stamina and determination to beat this monster. She called it “the mountain lion” and during treatment said she was “going up the mountain to kill that lion”. This was because she’d read a story from another women who had breast cancer. Someone else had helped her to cope too.

Daffodils mean a lot to Nikki and have a big significance as they were blooming when she was diagnosed and she didn’t know if she’d see them again. She didn’t think she would see the next 3 years in which her children graduated and got their first jobs. Nikki was, of course, there by their sides.

Finally, thank you to all of the team at Derby Royal Hospital and to “Lola” ….although Nikki you looked beautiful without her”.

Dear Nikki,  It’s been a journey of all journeys.  A bumpy one with lots of ups and downs.  A journey I didn’t plan for you in life.  One I didn’t ever want you to be on.

Wasn’t it only yesterday when you were a baby in my arms, looking at your beautiful face and wondering where life would take you.  Never expecting the journey you have been on.  I look at the person you have become.  Strong, kind, tenacious, brave and always optimistic.

I know along the journey too you have helped and inspired other women with writing your blog.  Women going through the same journey as yourself and helping them to face the unknown.  Letting them know the steps they will be taking.  Throughout all of your own experiences you have been a beacon for others in their darkest hour.

If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes.With love from a very proud Mum. X

At a family wedding a year before the big C

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Dear Mum,  I know love and compassion because you taught me that.  My Sister and I were taught to share and always look out for each other.   Our Dad taught us how to be tough and independent and how to reverse park a car in a tight space.  If I look in the mirror I see a reflection of your souls and I know that love, compassion and strength are reflected in your grandchildren too.

Nikki. X

Sadly, Mum was diagnosed with advanced gastric oesophageal cancer a few months later and died six months after diagnosis, the morning after Mother’s Day 2021. I held her hand for the last time on Mother’s Day.

If you are supporting someone with cancer and don’t know were to start, here is an excellent place:

If you are grieving then check out the Good Grief Trust site which I’ve found to be supportive, like an distant hug that you can see from afar whilst you’re quietly grieving. You can get as involved as you want to and they share comforting quotes, signpost services and events and connect people together in similar situations.