To live in a heart you leave behind is not to die

Tuesday 1 March, 2011 by Elle

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of my mum's death and still not a day goes by that I don't think of her. At the age of 12 losing your mum is something you simply cannot comprehend, but it was something I was left to face, along with my dad, Blake, sister Chloe (7) and brother Jake (10).

Our mum had been misdiagnosed, this was in 1997. After weeks of not feeling well my mum went to get a second opinion and in the weeks to follow, and many test results later, it was confirmed, my mum had cancer in her neck.

The first couple of years my mum led a normal life, from what I could see. It was only until that final year she went downhill, during my 1st year of high school. I stayed home most days to care for mum as she was simply unable to do so herself, even dressing and showering became too hard for her. Nothing mattered more to me than her getting better and with mum's positive outlook that reassured me that just maybe she would get through this.

As the year went on mum only got worse, the cancer had returned to her neck after multiple operations to get rid of it, and now she had 20 golf-ball-sized tumours in her stomach that eventually spread into her brain and bones. Mum was taken into palliative care leading up to her death, and we were told that she would not be coming home.

February 28th 2001; I was at school camp, when I got the phone call from my dad saying mum had passed away in the early hours of the morning. All I heard were screams from my brother and sister. Even though I knew how unwell my mum was, I just could not believe she was gone, and I was not there to say goodbye.

The past 10 years, my family and I have all had our tough times, but now at the age of 22 I realise how cruel my mum's disease was and that she is in a better place now. I have learnt to accept she is not coming back now and although I miss her every day, I know she is still with me, with all of us.

To live in the heart you leave behind is not to die.

When you lose someone from cancer it's a very sad and difficult time. Many people say it can help to talk to someone else about your situation. If you or someone you know has lost someone to cancer you may find it helpful to call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 and speak with a cancer nurse. There are several avenues of support that we can offer you that may help you better cope through your grief.

Updated: 01 Mar, 2011