REAL LIFE | Losing My Mum To Breast Cancer
Breast cancer first entered into our family’s little bubble when I was just about to turn 18. It’s only looking back now that I realise how young I was then and more importantly how young my mum was – only 49. I remember so vividly the feeling of my legs physically shaking as I walked home from school to wait for my parents to get home from the hospital, the day they confirmed the news that my wonderful mum had this rotten disease.
Unfortunately there were many more of those moments over the next decade or so. Those that have lost someone to cancer know exactly what I mean. The day they said it’s back, the day chemo starts, the first outing of the wig, the day treatment stops, the first day you wake up without them.
Little by little the person you love and the life you know is taken from you and it doesn’t matter how many times you run the Race for Life or how many badges you buy or Facebook posts you share, it doesn’t change the fact that people are still dying from breast cancer every day.
My mum had what was thought to be a very treatable form of breast cancer, one that required a lumpectomy and radiotherapy, then five years of hormone therapy. Apparently her cancer was very hormone receptive, which meant it would respond extremely well to this kind of treatment. It just shows how far we still have to go in researching and understanding breast cancer as it did come back around 8 years later and this time it wasn’t able to be cured. Losing her in this way left so many unanswered questions, what if she had stayed on her treatment for longer, could we have had longer with her if she hadn’t have had a break from chemo over Christmas, could we have shipped her off to Germany for the magic immunotherapy treatment you hear such good things about.
We shouldn’t have to ask those questions. We should be beating cancer once and for all.
Days like today are really difficult for someone that has lost a loved one to breast cancer.
It’s really hard remembering the horrible moments, the hospitals, the drugs, the reactions to the drugs and the pain of the loss, as we consciously try to remember all the good times instead. And it’s hard reading about people that have ‘beaten’ cancer, the families that still have their loved ones. We used to be one of those families.
But days like today are really important because it shows what is still left to do. There are so many positive ways we can tackle breast cancer. Genetic screening for those most at risk, reducing your risk through positive lifestyle choices, knowing the signs and having the healthcare in place to quickly assess those with symptoms, fundraising and awareness-raising, research into new therapies, drug trials, support systems, decent wigs, end of treatment choices and end of life care.
A huge part of me wants to push breast cancer away from my life and not acknowledge how much it has taken from me. But shying away from it won’t help anyone. Wearing pink doesn’t cure cancer, but it’s about taking back a bit of control from this horrible disease and showing solidarity to the huge numbers of people that have been affected by it.
Most importantly, try to remember for every statistic shared there is a person behind it, a family and a story. I wish it wasn’t, but this is mine.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. So it’s important to check your breasts regularly and see your GP if you notice a change. Here’s a good article outlining what you need to be checking for. Use today to check your breasts: https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/signs-symptoms-breast-cancer
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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