One year later – mum, cancer and me.

(this is a very honest and raw post about cancer and death, so if you are in a vulnerable place in life, maybe skip it)

It has been a year since mum died. On the 16th of April exactly. I feel relatively calm about it. I mean, who knows how you are supposed to feel on your parent’s death anniversary.

A year ago, I finally felt relieved. Watching someone dying from cancer is gut-wrenching. Nothing you can do. Mum died very quickly actually, she was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer and 7 weeks late she died. Seven weeks of hell. And some lovely spring days in between. We saw a lot of blossoms. We (by we, I mean my sister, my boyfriend and me. We were in it together from the very beginning to the very end) tried our best to be positive. How many walks we had and lunches in pubs. Hampshire is stunning in spring. But I don’t think I will be able to go back there. Maybe even ever. What is the point?

By far the most painful moment was when we got told that there is no more hope. There is nothing anyone can do. Hope is such a comforting human emotion. It gives you a lot of strength really. Can you imagine that being taken away? That was the hardest part. And then she died four days later. I think mum decided by that point, that there is no need to prolong this and just let everything go. I am grateful for that really. On the 15th of April all three of us were in the hospital the entire day. We left in the evening, drove home for an hour and a half and went to the pub. Had a pint and went to sleep. My sister called me at 1am, saying that she just got a call from the hospital and we have to go back. Mum was dead by the time we got there. All that was left was a shell. A nurse made us cups of tea and let us sit in their room for a bit. And that was it. We drove back home, had McDonald’s for breakfast at 5am and went to sleep. And everything was over.

I wrote these notes when everything was happening. I am glad I did. It is painful to read back but also good because I know it was real. And everything I felt was real. It really was that horrific.

This is my diary.

***

Day 6 (since the diagnosis)

Pretty incredible how your body gets used to the shock and a new reality. It is a day 6 now, since we know that something isn’t right. The actual diagnosis got delivered last Friday. What a feeling. Of course I knew something was really bad but hearing it out loud hurts like nothing else. Standing there biting the side of my cheek, just so I don’t burst into tears, and trying to be brave. I can’t even imagine what was going through my mum’s head at that time. 

The last 5 days I have spent with her. The first few days in a hospital were absolutely gut wrenching. Leaving your mum at the end of the night, in a hospital robe, looking so small and scared, is brutal. Actually, I would describe the whole experience as brutal. As brutal as it gets. 

I spent the whole day, and not just me, my sister too, in the hospital with mum. We found out about the diagnosis – stage 4 bowel cancer. I told a few of my closest friends by now, so typing this doesn’t feel as horrific by now. There is literally nothing we can do for now. We are waiting to find out about treatment options. 

But Friday was tough. I left the hospital around 8pm, after mum got transferred to a different ward. I don’t think I cried at all in the hospital. But the wave of pain appeared the second I left mums room. I pretty much run to my car so I could cry. Not just a few tears shared out of pain, but those incredible tears that only appear when you feel like your heart has been torn into million bits and you know they will never be glued back together. I honestly don’t know how I drove home – pretty much an hour and a half of listening to terrible dance music as loud as possible and pinching myself as hard as I could, just to make myself stop sobbing – pretty sure I couldn’t see the motorway as some point…

After I got home, I sat in the car for ages. Crying. Calum had to come and get me. 

Day 6 is easier. I got used to the news and shock. This is the new reality. My life has changed. No going back. I’m scraping every little bit of me for hope. That is the only thing that is left. 

***

Day 13

I think the most interesting thing is how as humans we are desperate for any hope. Any rays of hope, any, gives so much strength. 

The last week has been a rollercoaster, as expected. All inner me is hugely dependent on the state that my mum is in. If she is doing well, I have a good day, is she is weak and looking frail, my day ends up being a disaster. 

I’m finding myself desperately clutching to any smallest hope. Any. Slowly trying to return to previous life. Small steps at the time. 

***

Day 22

It has been 3 weeks now since we found out about cancer. I honestly can say, these were the hardest 3 weeks of my life. The highs are good but the lows…the lows are heartbreaking. They leave you gasping for air and not willing to be alive anymore. 

This morning I woke up feeling like someone has switched my lightbulb off. I just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. It is hard. Brutal.

Yesterday my sister and me had spent a few hours trying to convince our mum to fight for life. Like, what the actual fuck. 

There might only be a few months left. It is so scary I can’t even talk about it. I don’t think I have any strength left to even think about it. This genuinely feels like someone is ripping my chest open and waiting for me to do something. I want to hide. I want to run away. But there is no point.

Never in my life, have I been so scared of a tiny bit of hope there is left. What if it is a lie? I don’t know if I can survive if I let myself believe in it, and it goes the wrong way. 

I wish someone else could do this for me. 

***

Day 33

Such a beautiful and sunny day outside. I feel like it is dark and miserable. Can’t see any light. Looking at the blue sky but not seeing any light. Sometimes I wake up filled with anxiety. It takes so long to unpack it and understand what has caused it. Sitting it silence and not wanting to move. Everything takes so much persuasion and hours of self motivation. I wish I was little and could hide and not having to deal with this. 

Is it a depression? Looking at the blue sky and seeing darkness. 

***

Day 34

Grateful for the spring, that I have a car which gives me freedom, support I get from my boyfriend. But. I’m also so angry. I know how irrational this is, but it is hard not to feel the anger at life and circumstances and the whole unfairness of this all. I crave control and have a strong need for things to go the way I want them to. None of that happens. So hard just to let it go and float with life right now. So hard to stop fighting what is happening to our family. I want to be 5 years old and not having to deal with this. No responsibilities. 

***

Day 37

Looking at the blue sky and not seeing it. My brain understands that it is blue and pretty, I just can’t see it. I feel like it is black around me. This permanent fog, that won’t let me see the prettiness of the blue sky. 

***

Day 50

My mum died. 7 weeks of absolute hell are over and she is no longer in pain. Never in a million years did I think that I will have to witness cancer at its absolute worst- when it kills someone in such short time. We had less than two months since the diagnosis but made the best out of that time. A lot of lovely lunches and nice walks. Also Basingstoke hospital has been incredible – thank you NHS. 

***

4 days since she died

The last seven weeks felt like a giant hurricane appeared out of nowhere, spent a few weeks destroying everything and then just left. Like nothing had ever happened. And now we have to rebuild our life’s. How? Quite often I forget about everything and just plod along as I did 2 months ago, and then I’ll remember. And everything looses sense. Simple daily motions, become irrelevant. Do I just go back to normal life? Do I need to change absolutely everything? What even is important now? 

***

10 days since she died

The last week was odd. Doing lots of death admin. I know some of you might think this is a weird topic, but somehow I found myself as the oldest child and lots of these things are my responsibility. Of course my sister is incredible and we share most of the tasks, just weird to know that there is no one else really to do these things but us. Like there isn’t an adult who will take care of registering death and organising a funeral or closing bank accounts. By the way, all of those things take a lot of time. And money. Funerals are expensive. Like at least 3k expensive. Why no one tells you that? 

***

One year since she died

What a year it has been. I have changed but also stayed the same. Things look different now. Thing feel different now. Cancer sucks but life goes on. I am in a good place. The fact that I could write this post, I think shows it. This was by far the biggest thing that has ever happened to me. I feel like I dived in and touched the bottom of the pond. But then I floated back up. Things are better. My relationship with mum was very complicated. She taught me a lot. And I am grateful for it. But I can also live without her. It feels wrong to write it but that’s how I feel. This is something people don’t talk about often. I loved her but I don’t really miss her. And that’s how I feel which makes it valid.

Blossoms outside mum’s home

2 thoughts on “One year later – mum, cancer and me.

    1. Thank you and I am so sorry for your loss. Grief is such a weird place. So unique and so individual. I tried reading books about it but I found my experience is very different from that. But sharing definitely helps to understand and process it better.

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