Going through school with a parent who was terminally ill was a nightmare that I had to face. When my mum died, I was a month away from my year 12 final exams. I don’t remember a lot from the time surrounding her death, as my coping mechanism was to put my head in a book and study.
I was grieving while I was so close to the most important exams of my academic career. The teachers and students at school were so understanding but the look of pity in their eyes was a constant reminder of what had happened.
From the earliest I can remember. my mum was sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was five years old. My memories from that time are not very clear, but it was filled with lots of trips to the hospital and many nights spent at my grandparents’ house. After going through chemotherapy and a mastectomy, fortunately she was cancer free and our lives were on track to being normal.
That was until 2012 when she was diagnosed again, this time with metastatic breast cancer in the bones and liver, which is much worse as it was terminal. My parents had also divorced in those years, so it was just me and mum living together.
I remember the day my world changed, as I overheard a phone conversation with a doctor in which mum said she had cancer again. I questioned her about it but she told me it was only so she could get an appointment quicker. Weeks later mum and I were at a counselling session, as I was going through some anxiety issues of my own, and she turned to me with tears in her eyes and told me the cancer was back and that it was more aggressive.
It was so hard coming to terms with the fact that I was going to have to eventually lose my mother, while dealing with my own mental health problems.
Mia Freedman speaks to Gold Logie Winner Samuel Johnson after the death of his sister Connie. Post continues below.
I always felt guilty whenever I thought about myself too much. How could my problems compare to my mum who had to face the thought of dying some day? The only way I could with it all was to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything was normal. This is something I will always regret. I convinced myself that nothing was wrong and to keep going on with life as normal.
In 2014, my mum was given two weeks to live. The cancer had taken over her liver, and her skin began to turn yellow. It was terrifying as I had to treat every moment I saw her as if it was the last. I had wasted precious time we could have spent together by pretending that she didn’t have cancer. She was so brave in those two weeks, and I remember her telling me that she couldn’t be dying because she didn’t feel like she was.