When Carol found out her daughter had stage three breast cancer, she felt completely helpless. Here's her side of experiencing cancer.
It was the worst possible news
It was a terrible day for us all. Strangely enough, my other daughter and granddaughter were with me at the time. It was around teatime when my phone rang. It was Nikki. The worst news followed. The worst a mother could have. My world collapsed in a moment when Nikki said the words; 'Mum, I’ve got stage 3 breast cancer'.
I remember thinking:
'No! No! No! Not my daughter.
This is not happening.
She’s too young.
She has children.
No! No! No! It should be me.
I’ve had my life.
I’ve seen my grandchildren grow up.
It should be me, not her.
Not my daughter.'
I felt useless
I didn’t know how or what to feel. I wanted to be with Nikki all of the time. I wanted to guard her, take care of her, hug her, protect her and make this thing go away. But I couldn’t. As a mother, I felt helpless. Useless. I couldn’t mend this with a 'kiss it better' or some 'magic cream'.
I felt like I was having an out of body experience, like I was having this nightmare and I couldn’t do a thing about it. All I could do was be there for her.
Nikki had to have six months of chemotherapy. The cancer was also in her lymph nodes. Throughout treatment, she was in and out of hospital. She also developed sepsis, which I knew nothing about until much later.
That’s Nikki though: always trying to protect Mum from bad things and not wanting to bother me. I understand why though. She didn’t need a blubbering heap to cope with on top of what she was going through.
My daughter is so strong
I went with Nikki for her second chemotherapy session and couldn’t believe the cocktail of drugs being carefully measured, checked and placed on a tray. There were nine big syringes of three different drugs waiting to be pumped into my daughter. I was horrified. But Nikki being Nikki took it in her stride. As an experienced skier, mountain biker, half-marathon runner and horse rider, she’d always been a bit of a white knuckle rider - and I hoped she would hold on just as tight with this challenge.
Next was the mastectomy. I know Nikki suffered mentally and physically but has come through it well. I think she’s bionic!
The last hurdle was the radiotherapy. I went with Nikki to her last session and then she rang that bloody bell in the unit. End of treatment. After that, it was the mental, as well as physical healing.
She has incredible determination
I know Nikki has to take medication and has made a lot of changes to her lifestyle. I have never seen anyone with such stamina and determination. She called breast cancer the 'mountain lion', and during treatment said she was 'going up the mountain to kill that lion'. This was because she’d read a story from another woman who had breast cancer about this.
Daffodils mean a lot to Nikki and have a big significance as they were blooming when she was diagnosed and she didn’t know if she’d see them again. She didn’t think she would see the next three years in which her children graduated and got their first jobs. Nikki was, of course, there by their sides.
A message to my daughter
It’s been a journey of all journeys. A bumpy one with lots of ups and downs. A journey I didn’t plan for you in life. One I didn’t ever want you to be on. Wasn’t it only yesterday when you were a baby in my arms? I remember looking at your beautiful face and wondering where life would take you, never expecting the journey you have been on.
I look at the person you have become: strong, kind, tenacious, brave and always optimistic. I know along the journey, too, you have helped and inspired other women with writing your blog, letting them know the steps they will be taking. Throughout all of your own experiences, you have been a beacon for others in their darkest hour.
If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes.
With love from a very proud Mum. X
If you have a family member with breast cancer, our Someone Like Me service can help offer support for both you and them.