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Losing Mum

Losing a mother is the most painful experience in the world. When it happens, you join a club you never wished to join, you become one in the ranks of the most undesirable leagues in the world, and you can never leave. I sadly have now joined that club, and am trying to navigate my way through this new world. My Mum was not old enough, but I suppose nobody’s Mum ever is. We always long for more time, and regret all the things we didn’t get to do and say. The day my Mum passed away, I lingered a bit longer at the door of the hospital ward before I said goodbye, and strangely, so had my brother. I’m not sure we believed in the notion of ‘knowing’ before that night, but I guess we must have both had that sense, the sense that we weren’t going to get to speak to her again, that we weren’t going to hear her call us ‘love’ or ‘darling’ again.

Mum died from her cancer, and like so many who must endure this awful disease, her decline was the most dreadful journey, first and foremost for her, but closely followed behind by us. Watching the weight fall from her bones, and the fight fall from her heart, was the true definition of heartbreak. We were still under a blanket of delusion when she died, that we would get her home, and even that we would get her back on her feet and up and about. I can see now, with raw and painful hindsight, that this was fantasy (and in reality, we all knew it), and I harbour a huge guilt that I may have suspended her own disbelief, or that, worse and more likely, she may have not wanted to tell me that she knew it was the end.

When my Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, in May 2021, there was, of course, a multitude of feelings, which ranged from shock, to disbelief, to fear, and included at various points, denial. Mum was a sprightly 72-year-old, although nobody could ever believe her age. She was always on the go and looking gorgeous, so it was hard to imagine she was ‘sick’. However, as her treatment progressed, we, and more importantly she, experienced something resembling a roller-coaster – awful, bad, times, when we thought she could endure no more, but also some hopeful times, when we could see light at the end of the tunnel. Chemotherapy, then massive surgery, followed by more chemotherapy, in a woman my Mum’s age was, we were aware, risky, not by any means certain, and potentially very damaging. But my Mum, warrior that she was, endured it all, with strength, courage, stamina, and grace.

She did suffer side effects of the poison, with some severe nerve damage to her hands and feet, some quite debilitating swelling in her feet, and unsurprisingly, she did lose her hair. But she looked beautiful with no hair, and she embraced it after a wobbly period, and wow, she rocked those turbans. She looked so cool.

After all these life-changing steps, remarkably, she overcame the ‘cancer’ beast. She really did beat it. Her hair grew back in a brilliant shock of curly white, and she looked amazing – glamorous, and beautiful, and hugely dignified. In February 2022, she was declared ‘NED’, or ‘no evidence of disease’ - in old fashioned terms, she was in remission. We were elated. We celebrated, and Mum became stronger every day. Life, we thought, would finally get back to a normality, albeit somewhat altered. Mum was changed by what she had gone through, of course, and so were we.

And then she was prescribed a ‘maintenance’ treatment. This was by way of a three-weekly intravenous therapy, not as potent, we were told, as chemotherapy, but still full on and with risk of huge side effects, and which would, apparently, ‘mop up’ any cells that had been missed after her surgery, and which would prevent regrowth. My brother and I were sceptical – it seemed like a contradiction, a powerful chemical treatment when you have, in their own words, ‘no evidence of disease’. However, Mum trusted the doctors, and began the therapy. Just weeks after beginning this so-called treatment, Mum’s health went into a rapid decline, and, it is incredibly difficult, in August 2022, for us to find ourselves here, having just held her funeral, and trying to put together the pieces of how we went from such joyous news in February, to such devastation in July.

The end was incredibly painful to witness, and I have not yet, six weeks on, got the strength to write about it in detail. My mind, though, is torturing me with the memories of those last weeks and days, both while I am awake and in my dreams, and, in time, I will put pen to paper to record what happened to my beautiful Mum. But, for now, I wanted to simply acknowledge the pain, and to send my heartfelt love to those who have also endured this agony.

I wanted, too, to express my doubts about conventional ‘cures’ and ‘treatments’, and to put forward my intention to take a deeper look into the ‘therapy’ that I am convinced was in some way responsible for the dreadful turn of events. I wish I had known even a little of the information I have since found out regarding natural therapies and nutrition, and their potential benefits for people diagnosed with cancer, at the time my Mum was first diagnosed. But, we still live in a world dominated by Big Pharma, and they remain very much in control. To reject their ‘treatments’ in favour of natural ones still seems a frightening prospect to most people – but then, that is no surprise given the amount Big Pharma have spent on marketing strategies to peddle their poisons.

So, this short piece is purely a tribute, to all those going through this awful disease, and to those who have lost loved ones to it, and indeed, to any who are mourning a loss. I am there with you in spirit on this dreadful journey we are all enduring, and I wish you the strength and courage to bear it.

Love, and light to you all.


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