By DAVID ARCHER
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.