by LOUISE ALICANDRO
Goodbye mum, I’ll always love you…
As a young adult in my late 20’s I often reflect on a dark time in my life, when I was 13 my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Yep, the big C.
It was odd to hear that because my mum was the healthiest woman I have ever known. She didn’t smoke or drink and never bought her lunch when she was working. She always made a sandwich every morning before work. She didn’t even swear or get a craving for McDonald’s when she bought it for me. So you can imagine the look on the doctors faces when they said to her “how did you get cancer?” Mum’s cancer was a brain tumour with a 50/50 chance of survival. That is, treatment either works or it doesn’t.
As soon as mum was diagnosed she began to receive radiation therapy. We both moved into my grandparent’s home. I remember seeing how tired she was from treatment after I had finished school because we both got home at the same time. She always had to have a nap, as the therapy wore her out. But I knew my mum; I knew she was going to make it. I did have a little moment where she caught me crying because my mum had cancer and cancer is a really nasty illness. “Don’t worry, Louise, I’m going to be alright. And when I’m all better, we can go back home”, was what she told me. And I believed her, because she was such a strong woman. She put up with a lot. She left my dad when I was 4. He was physically abusive towards us both and it takes strength and courage to walk away from a marriage like that. But she did it, she was my superwoman.
Months had gone by and I noticed my size 10 mum had gained a little weight. She was now fitting into size 16. She didn’t really care but knew it had to do with the treatment and medication she was on.
In March the following year I turned 14. It would be the last birthday I would share with my mum. We had a small party with our family. Mum was feeling OK and the following month at the start of April mum said she had a severe headache. We took her to the hospital and they ran a series of tests. The tests were all the same, she had cancer and they kept her there. It was the last time mum would ever be admitted into hospital.
Days after that episode I went to school as per normal and the principal called me out of class. “I wonder what I’m in trouble for?” I thought, because back then I did have some attitude. The principal informed me that my uncle was on his way to pick me up from school as mum wasn’t doing so well. I really didn’t think anything of it.
Since mum was initially diagnosed her health was always up and down. When we reached the hospital, my grandparents were there and we were immediately taken into a special room full of doctors. They told us mum was in a coma and might not make it, however, I was so shocked that I could have sworn they were speaking Greek to me. Mum was in a coma for a week and during that time, she only ever opened her eyes once and that was to give me permission to eat chocolate pudding before my dinner. Once a mum, always a mum!