Why cancer research is important this Mother's Day

Danielle Archer with her family. This year is their second mothers day without her.


May 2011 was the very last Mother’s Day my children ever celebrated with their mother. Two months later we said our last goodbye.

Now two years have passed and time has perhaps softened our pain… but only a little bit.

This is Danielle’s story. This is my family’s story.

Danielle and I first met at the end of 1995. She was 20 years old. I was 26, and I worshipped her. We were married less than four years later and started our life together by settling into the lower Blue Mountains.

We had always wanted children and in 2001 we welcomed our first son, Joshua, into the world, and into our hearts.

Our family soon grew to five with the arrival of our daughter Grace and our second son Caleb. It seemed like everything was in balance – everything we had dreamed of having had come true.

However, unbeknown to us, some very dark clouds were heading our way.

Danielle’s routine sinus surgery in November 2009 brought us news that would change our lives for ever. It turned our world upside down.

Danielle’s increasingly intense headaches and blocked sinus now had a name: “small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma”.

She’d been diagnosed with an extremely rare and very aggressive cancer in the sino-nasal region on the right-hand side of her head.

My beautiful wife. What now?

Throughout the next year, Danielle underwent numerous cycles of chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy. It wasn’t working.

In desperation, after being told she most likely had only a few more months to live, Danielle underwent a 20-hour operation at RPA Hospital in Sydney. The four specialist teams of surgeons removed as much of the tumour as possible, but we always knew that this was always about buying time, not about a cure.

In the months following it was clear that the tumour was growing quickly again. I felt utterly powerless.

And then, late in the evening on the 5th of July 2011 after a 20-month battle, my beautiful wife drew her last breath and passed away. Danielle was just 35 years old.


Through it all Danielle always displayed courage, dignity, love and was inspirational to all who knew her, none more so than our three children.

May 2012 was the first Mother’s Day without her and it was very difficult for us. At the time I felt the need to share with our friends and family how I, but also our children, felt. I did this by putting it into words. In grief but also in hope, I wrote her this poem:


Your love lights the path for our children to follow,

Thinking of you gives them comfort when comfort is needed,

and keeps them warm when it is cold.

They talk about you often with love and fondness, as do I.

Yet we shed tears for you as we try to accept that you were taken from us too soon.

You will never be forgotten,

and the courage, grace and love you always showed inspires them and… sets the example.

We know you are looking over us through good times and bad,

We miss you so much the hurt is almost unbearable,

but you are always in our thoughts and forever in our hearts.

You are their mummy, always have been, always will be.

You are our guardian angel.

We love you, always and forever, Danielle,

Happy Mother’s Day xxxx

I always try to ensure that Joshua, Grace and Caleb and I talk about Danielle often and remember the wonderful things about her. I will make sure Danielle always plays a significant role in their lives, as they grow into adults and, one day, have families of their own.

David Archer.

Having cancer didn’t stop Danielle from being a mum. It certainly didn’t make her any less of a mum. In fact, by enduring everything she did during her illness, whilst always displaying courage, bravery, love and spirit, Danielle showed all of us what it means to be a mum. She inspired me, our children, her family and friends – she still does and always will.

This Mother’s Day, Joshua, Grace, Caleb and I will be thinking about Danielle, celebrating the life of the person we loved more than anything.

But it will also be a reminder of the other thousands of Australians who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will be mums, just like Danielle.

This is why we’re helping The Australian Cancer Research Foundation to raise funds for world-class cancer research. We do everything we can to help the Australian Cancer Research Foundation to fight this terrible disease in the hope that other families might be saved this pain.

No family deserves to go through what we have, so to help find the cures for the many types of cancer, our donations go straight to Australia’s best cancer researchers.

I’d like to ask Mamamia readers and subscribers to consider making a gift to cancer research in lieu of a CD or flowers or a pamper package this Mother’s Day. She will no doubt love these things, but we can do so much more for our families and their future if we pitch in and donate together.

David Archer is a father of three. He is committed to raising funds for cancer research and will be walking from Canberra to Blaxland, a town in the lower Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, in August this year. He is doing so in memory and honour of his late wife Danielle.