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“I do struggle with thoughts of what the future holds for our family, including what the next Mother’s Days may be like.”

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Najette, a mother of two whose husband Robert is living with a high grade brain tumour, reflects on what the day means to her family.

Najette McCaigue and her husband, Robert, from Braintree in Essex are preparing for their first Mother’s Day as a family of four after the birth of Teagan, their “all-clear” baby last year. Unfortunately, while preparing for the birth of Teagan, the couple’s second child, Robert suffered a recurrence of his high grade astrocytoma but the family remains focused on creating treasured memories while they have the opportunity.

We spoke to Najette about what she was feeling ahead of the occasion:

Mother’s Day is fast approaching around everything else in life which has been so hectic. It will be my first one with Teagan so I am looking forward to celebrating that with her as well as my husband Bobby and our eldest child, Harrison. Previous Mother’s Days have helped me to realise just how fortunate I am – my family have always made me feel very special and appreciated. I have kept all of my cards which hold special memories.

I do struggle with thoughts of what the future holds for our family, including what the next Mother’s Days may be like. It’s devastating to think that there’s a possibility that this may be the last Mother’s Day which we’ll share with Bobby. All I do know is that I’m so thankful that we have our precious Teagan and Harrison. Alongside Bobby, they are my world and I’m so grateful to be their mummy. They’re helping to keep me going during these difficult times.

Whatever happens, we’ll celebrate future Mother’s Days in a similar way to the wonderful ones I’ve had so far. I will always try to make the day as happy and fun as possible and create new memories with my children and loved ones. I’ll be happy to just have lots of cuddles and a card or two made at school or nursery – I love those!

Of course, I will still share the special day alongside my own mum and Bobby’s mum so we will show them how much we love and appreciate them too.

Robert was first diagnosed with an anaplastic pilocytic astrocytoma in April 2019 after experiencing vision loss, balance issues, nausea and severe headaches. After surgery to remove most of the tumour and a course of radiotherapy, Robert made a good recovery and trained hard to get fit again so he was able to have a phased return to work as a military engineer nine months after his diagnosis. Sadly, as the family prepared to welcome the birth of their second child, Teagan, Robert began experiencing familiar symptoms. 

Robert said: “I was having scans every three months then, after a year of positive results, I then had scans every six months instead. It was during this time that the tumour grew back significantly.

I started to feel all the familiar symptoms again with the headaches and vomiting returning. After an MRI scan, I was told to go to A&E to find out why I was having these symptoms but I already knew. I started shaking and I had a panic attack knowing what was to come.
Teagan was our ‘all-clear’ baby. We thought the nightmare of my diagnosis was behind us and we were looking forward to getting our family life back on track and providing a sibling for Harrison. I am so proud of being a parent – it’s without a doubt my most important job.

My prognosis is not great but I am just glad that I am still here. My career has very much given me the physical and mental strength to handle it. It taught me that bad news can be handled with a “never give up” attitude, discipline and the type of pride which makes someone a good soldier.

I set goals for myself each day including praying and exercising my mind and body as well as spending time with my friends and family when I feel well enough to do so. I also accept all offers of help from experts and my family.

But it is, of course, not easy. I hate seeing my wife struggle and laying there helpless to do anything about it. I simply can’t be the father I had imagined to be. It makes me sad to see the seasons change on the other side of my window yet be unable to get outside and enjoy them with my family.

Read more of Robert’s story

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