Last year late afternoon in June I was at my friends house bundling our 3 year old girls into my car. I was taking her Miss R to our place for a sleepover, my poor friend was heavily pregnant and having a shocker in and out of hospital.
My phone rang, and normally with two 3 year olds heading towards the end of the day I’d leave it, but a glance at the phone told me it was my mum, and I wanted to talk to her as I knew she was getting test results that day. Not that I was worried, I wasn’t. She’d had some persistent abdominal pain, more annoying than anything else. No loss of appetite, nothing to worry about.
“I have cancer.”
Jesus. Of the nasty kind? We didn’t know yet, more tests, urgent ones.
I’ll never forget that drive home, done in autopilot. The delightful Miss R chitty chatting from the back seat all the way home. “Lexy!” she’d yell if she sensed I wasn’t listening, “Lexy!”
I wasn’t listening (I’m sorry Miss R I wasn’t but I’ll make it up to you). The oceans were pounding in my head as I drove into the orange sun. My mum has cancer. My mum has cancer. My mum has cancer.
As a family, we’ve all been smug in our absence of cancer and heart disease. Rolling our eyes at our inevitable longevity as all the oldies got to their 90s before dying of…. well of old age.
So there we were. Yep serious, but treatable and surgery straight away please, oh and don’t go Googling it because it’s unhelpful and it’ll only tell you that peritoneal or ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer”and knowing the survival rate is just not helpful. Unfortunately, by the time I agreed with that advice, I’d googled and googled and I’d seen.
My mum, my amazing beautiful mum has been extraordinary in this journey. So strong, so inspiring.
She went through 2 hell surgeries, damn near died with blood clots travelling through her heart, lost god knows how much weight. Chemo, hair loss, some weird foot injury requiring more surgery and delayed chemo, then more chemo.
In all that time, mum has stayed so positive, so strong. She refused to get sick, she got on with her life. Once she’d recovered from the awful awful surgeries, we almost forgot she was in chemo. She got on with it. She has chosen to believe the doctors who tell her things are looking good. She believes them, so I do too.
She just hates her lost hair. I think she’s looking like Judy Dench now it’s growing back.
Cancer – which I’d always sympathised with but never really considered as an issue for me – not only touched us, it grabbed us by the neck, picked us up till our feet were dangling and shook us into submission.
So this Mothers Day, which I usually acknowledge with a phone call if I remember, I am thinking about my mum. Not because I don’t think she’ll be here next year, I know she will. But for the extraordinary inspiration she is, for the wonderful, tireless mum, wife, sister and grandma she is.
And the friendship her and I have grown since I became an adult.
And so much more.
Mumma, I treasure you now and for the next 20 years you’ll be around and forever.
To those individuals and families who have been touched by cancer (‘touched’ being the polite word) I’m thinking of you too. With love xx