It’s forty days until I marry the man of my dreams and my mum is dying from ovarian cancer. It feels like an emotional roller coaster as I lurch from joy to sadness with only love as the common denominator. I feel blessed and excited about my new beginnings whilst at the same time guilty that I have future life to look forward to and my mum is struggling to get through each new day.
I was racing against the clock to finish my new book. Excited about launching a new programme to potentially make a difference to the lives of millions of women around the world. Forging ahead with my attention firmly on future impact until the day I couldn’t as my concentration evaporated. I realised that during the coming weeks, and maybe months, I need to put my mums needs first and help her to bravely face her death. So I mindfully pressed the pause button on real life to become the carer, cheerleader and confident.
On the day my 84 year old mum was told that she only had two months to live she decided to do Sky Dive to raise money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity so that further research could be done into ovarian cancer. It was truly a day to remember and, as her self-appointment press officer, I managed to get her onto Good Morning Britain and on the front pages of several newspapers and magazines. The world acknowledged that she was truly inspirational.
They were so touched by her bravery at the Royal Marsden, she was affectionately nick named Super Woman. They decided to give her another series of chemo sessions which was hard on her body, but kept her going for another six months. Sadly, the chemo had only a limited effect and her cancer kept growing. By April this year we knew that she officially entered the final phase of her life.
These days she sleeps a lot. She says she has the energy of a new born baby. I juggle my patients and wedding planning around her schedule. I shop and try to tempt her with food I know she usually likes, but she’s finding it harder to eat and digest as her swollen abdomen grows larger each week.
It occurred to me that we have a wealth of support when we are pregnant, welcoming in new lives, but it’s quite the reverse when preparing to die. No one really talks about emotions, feelings and fears as it’s a taboo subject. That’s why I volunteered to be her confident. To accompany her on the difficult emotional journey and speak frankly about her anxieties, sorrow and sadness.
On one hand I feel like postponing the wedding as I don’t know if I’m capable of experiencing joy at this deeply sad time, but I know that my mum is summoning all her strength to live to be at our wedding. Plus, we have guests coming from Australia and the USA, all of whom have booked their trips to London.
Having experienced the devastation of losing my 21 year old daughter Hester, seven years ago, after she was given a legal high, I realise that losing your mum, despite the sadness and void that follows their departure, it is part of the natural life cycle.
Whilst my mum sleeps I plough through my ‘To Do’ list for the wedding. I’ve organised many charity events for the Angelus Foundation in the last few years which easily makes this feel similar, without the auction. I’m sure when the Wedding Day arrives it will feel real, but in the meantime I have to take one day at a time, making time to exercise, mediate and be mindfully grateful; carefully balancing my forthcoming blessings with my losses.
As I share this tricky roller coaster ride in the next 40 days I’m going to be looking for all the inspiration, wisdom and support I can find. If you feel touched by my story and have something to share I would love to hear from you. Equally, if you are facing loss I hope you will find my journey both inspiring and helpful.
15th May 2016