The truth is if love could have saved her, she would have lived for ever.
After a long and brave battle, with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), my beautiful mum Jackie passed away peacefully on February 15th 2017 (aged just 52 years) with her family by her side. After everything she had dealt with the previous 3 years, passing so peacefully was the very least she deserved.
My mum was given the terminal diagnosis on November 23rd 2013 after having months of excruciating sore heads. Just 49 years old and otherwise in good health – the world as we knew it fell apart.
Mum went through 2 invasive “de-bulking” 5 hour long brain surgeries in Aberdeen (2013 and 2015), endless rounds of chemotherapy in Inverness (2014-2016) and radiotherapy in Edinburgh (2015). Mum was doing so well, everyone would comment on how well she looked when we were out shopping or for lunch! She loved hearing those words.
Devastatingly Mum suffered a massive stroke in August 2016 leaving her left side completely paralysed. Mum was admitted to hospital and the MRI showed the tumour had come back. Due to scar tissue from the stroke this time the tumour was inoperable and due to the paralysis Mum was also too weak for treatment. I think we all knew that this was it, although mum never ever said it. Mum asked never to be left on her own, the hospital were fantastic and even allowed for either my dad or myself to stay over with mum at nights. She was so scared of being on her own.
Unfortunately, mum never came home from hospital. The last 6 months of her life were spent bed bound in the same room at the local hospital. Although mum wanted to come home – the 24hour care was going to be impossible. The care and attention she needed was impossible for us to provide, this itself was heartbreaking that we couldn’t help her. She was too weak to be moved to the hospice and passed away in hospital at 05:10 with my dad holding her right hand and myself her left. It might sound daft, but although heart wrenching, it was such a beautiful moment seeing the pain she had been burden with removed from her body. She wasn’t finished fighting, but her body was too tired.
I would hate for someone to go through what we have as a family, and have vowed to tirelessly raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of my beautiful mum and her courageous fight.
With further research and understanding I hope one day it will prevent families in the future losing a loved one too soon to this horrendous debilitating disease.
What many don’t know is that mum was in the tiny 3% statistic of those who would outlive 3 years with the disease. She really was amazing she never once gave into defeat, she called the tumour an “inconvenience” and that was determined it wouldn’t get the better of her. We can only commend the integrity she maintained when dealing with her horrific illness. When I say she didn’t complain once I genuinely mean it. With every right in the world to complain, mum was more worried about how everyone else was coping. Her positive attitude was inspiring for so many.
I genuinely believe her attitude alone gave her extra time, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She was a very special lady to so many people and this was reflected at her funeral service; the church was packed with over 500 people attending (some even standing out in the pouring rain)! I will never forget coming out of the church and being greeted by the most beautiful rainbow right in front of me. Rainbows now have a very special meaning.
Losing someone you love is hard, but watching someone lose each of their senses over a cruel 6 month period and all you could do was hold her hand, smile and tell her how amazing she was and that things were going to be okay – I’ve never felt so useless in my entire life. I wish she needed a kidney or bone marrow and I could have potentially saved her, but things were much more complicated. Each day was a gift.
Some people have said my brother and myself have had to grow up too quick and that we haven’t had much of a childhood. The truth is, I don’t see it like that. We were both fortunate enough to have a truly inspirational woman in our lives that we will always have the honour of calling our mum. We had to do things for our mum that we never expected to have to do so soon, but if you can’t help your mum who can you help? She carried us in her body and brought us up in the most loving way that we will be eternally grateful for. She wasn’t just my mum, she was best friend and my hero.
4 years ago as far as I was concerned brain tumours were virtually unheard of. I knew very little if anything at all about them. I had no idea that brain tumours were (and still are!) the largest cancer killer of children and adults under 40.
We all miss mum terribly but can’t be sad her pain has been taken away. We can only be disappointed that more couldn’t be done to help her.