It has been 6 months since I lost my mum to cancer.
It is strange how the C word can affect your life so much even if you are not the one who has got it. I moved from London to be with my mum while she was ill and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Me and my dad became her carers along with nurses and professional carers coming in regularly, from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed it is always on your mind.
I eventually gave up work when we were told that she hadn’t got long left. Hearing that your parent could die at any time is heartbreaking, a million things go through your head. The decisions you have to make for someone who is dying is overwhelming. We had to decide if we wanted her to stay at home or go in a hospice, we had to decide if we wanted her to be resuscitated, we had to decide if we should give her stronger medication so she wasn’t in pain. At the time you think you have made the right choice but when she was gone and there was nothing to do but think you wonder if you have made the right decision.
When I was first told that my mum had cancer, I immediately thought that she was going to die. My mum reassured me that she was fine (she kept telling everyone she was fine right until the end!) and she was going to have an operation to remove the cancer. Two operations later and they told her that she was clear, we couldn’t of been happier. Obviously she had to go for regular checks as you do but she was feeling good as she didn’t have to worry any more..
A few months later they told her if had spread, it was the worst news you could of been told especially when we knew she had the all clear.
My mum was first diagnosed in 2011 with melanoma (skin cancer). When you tell people that they automatically think that she goes on holiday and doesn’t wear sun cream or that she goes on sun beds all the time. Rubbish! She had always had this mole ever since I can remember and I was always telling her to get it checked, ‘I will, yes of course’ she used to tell me but never did. Probably because she had always had it she wasn’t worried about it. Then one day it got bigger and started to bleed, so she needed to get it looked at.
She has two operations, one to remove the mole and one to remove the tissue inside. It is amazing what they did, they literally cut half her back open to get inside and remove what they had to. It healed nicely and we thought nothing of it after it wa done.
She was told it had spread to her spine – she now had bone cancer. Getting cancer anywhere is devastating but getting it in your bones is tragic. In the end she couldn’t walk or even hold herself up. I couldn’t see her like that any longer so I called Macmillan, a nurse came round and admitted her to hospital. If I didn’t call her I think she would of died. She couldn’t eat, didn’t want to drink, she just wanted to sleep.
Mum was in hospital for 5 weeks. She received blood transfusions, antibiotics, fluids, steroids, the lot. When she came home she was like a different person, she still couldn’t walk but it is not the end of the world, we can work with that.
We had a hospital bed in the living room, a hoist and a commode. Carers would come 3 times a day to help wash her and get her out of bed and sat in a chair for a few hours. Mum was happy to be home and felt fine, but the end of that week she started to deteriorate. She started to get really bad pains, she told me one day that it was so bad she thought she was going to die. Me and my dad called her doctor in and prescribed her with very strong tablets to ease this awful pain. Friday evening she took these tablets and I didn’t know that would be the last time I was going to speak to her.
I woke up in the morning and mum was still asleep, very unusual for her even when she was ill, she was always awake before me. Lunch time came around and she was still asleep, me and my dad just put it down to these tablets she had taken the night before. The next day she was still the same, it was like she was in a coma. Monday morning we called the doctor in once more and that was when we got told she didn’t have long left.
When you hear that you just go in to shock, you think that there must be something we can give her to make her better and to make her wake up. When he said the longest would be is 2 weeks, you can’t begin to take it all in.
I had the unpleasant news of telling family and friends. Friends came over to sit and talk to mum, even though she was now on diamorphine, I believe she could still hear what was being said. My auntie was due to come up from London to Yorkshire that week but the weather was so bad she couldn’t. My 2 brothers came and visited – I didn’t think we would be in the same room ever again, but that is another story!
That last week was the longest week of my life, it was like we were just waiting for her to die. Every time she made a noise we would jump up and hope it wasn’t time yet. The worst thing was that I wanted her to go as soon as possible because I didn’t want her to be in pain any more, its no life for someone to just lay there waiting to die. Everyday I told her that it was OK to go, but she hung on and hung on. Saturday 23rd March 2013, my auntie rang me and asked if she could speak with mum. I put the phone to her ear and knew she could hear what was being said to her as she was making noises like she was answering back.
11.00pm that night was when she passed away. I can still see her laying there now but at the time it still didn’t seem real, it was just like she was asleep.
I visited her in the funeral home and even with her laying in a coffin it still didn’t sink in that she had gone.
I have bad days and good days as everyone probably does who has lost someone close to them. It definitely makes you think about your own life though. I am really passionate about writing and would love to become a journalist. I have been over and over it in my head and I am going to look in to it as it is something I really want to do and I am really passionate about it. I always think now, your never know what is around the corner, you don’t know what life will throw at you, so do what you want to do in life and don’t let anyone put you off!
Jane Field – 1952 to 2013 x