Last words of love
My amazing mum left us a couple of very special gifts...
Sitting in my bed, I desperately tried to breastfeed my screaming newborn.
Miley-grace was struggling to latch on, so I held my breast with one hand and guided her head with the other. ‘Come on, sweetie,’ I said. Eventually, she began to suckle.
But as I began to relax, I felt something. A small, hard lump just under my left nipple.
The more I felt it, the more worried I got.
What if it’s cancer?
I barely slept and went to see my GP first thing.
He referred me for a biopsy at the local breast clinic.
There was only one person I wanted by my side – my mum Jinette, then 44.
We were more like best friends than mother and daughter.
‘I’m so scared, Mum,’ I sobbed.
‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be fine, I promise,’ she said. And she was right. The results came back to say the lump was just a blocked milk duct and nothing to worry about. ‘Thank God,’ I said. But the next morning, in April 2014, my world was turned upside down again. The phone rang – it was Mum. ‘Everything OK?’ I asked. ‘Not really, I’ve found a lump in my boob,’ she said.
She’d been in the bath and, after what’d happened with me, decided to check her boobs.
She’d found a pea-sized lump in her left breast.
‘It’s probably nothing, but let’s get you checked out,’ I said.
The GP referred her for a biopsy.
On the day of the results, I was expecting her to call with good news.
But when I picked up the phone, all I heard was crying.
‘I’ve got breast cancer,’ Mum sobbed.
Hearing that, I also burst into tears.
Mum explained that the tumour was 5cm across and already classed as stage 3 – but the doctors were hopeful that, with treatment, she had a good chance of a full recovery. Mum was the strongest, most positive person I knew. If anyone could beat cancer, it was her. Within days, she went into surgery to have her left breast removed. As soon as she recovered, she began an intensive course of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. It was a gruelling process, and it broke my heart to see Mum go from bubbly and outgoing to lethargic and weak. But by November 2014, we had amazing news. Tests showed that the cancer was gone. We went out for a big family meal to celebrate. After that, Mum soon got her sparkle back and began enjoying life again. Then, in June last year, she started feeling unwell with a persistent cough and bouts of vomiting. The GP said she probably had a mucus drip. But at a family wedding a week later, Mum couldn't stop being sick and had to be taken into hospital. I was worried, but I never expected what was coming. ‘I’m afraid your cancer has returned – this time to your liver,’ a doctor told Mum. I watched in horror as her eyes filled with tears. Over the next few days,
The tumour was 5cm across and already stage 3
she went downhill quickly and was moved to a hospice.
Then, a couple of nights later, as I held her hand tightly, Mum slipped away. She was just 46.
I sat at her bedside for hours and sobbed.
Eventually, a nurse came to see me.
‘Your mum wanted you to
have these,’ she said, handing me two notes. One was for Miley-grace...
I want Mammy to tell you all about me and how much I loved you. I wish I saw you bit longer... Keep laughing baby girl. The other letter was for me...
I really can’t believe I’m writing this but want you to know how much I loved you. You came into the world that lovely morning and the happiness I felt was unreal. I couldn’t stop looking at you and I knew from
that day that motherhood was defo for me. I cried like I’ve never cried before as I read her words. I promise I will be at your side through everything, I’m only sleeping eternally.
My heart felt like it had shattered into a million pieces – and I’m still struggling to piece it back together today.
I’ve only had the strength to read her letter once since the night she passed, but having it brings me great comfort. And I’m busy telling MileyGrace stories about her special Nana – just like Mum wanted.
I cried like I’ve never cried before as I read her words