“I’m very afraid of dying. I’m not so much afraid of the pain; I’m just afraid of doing it alone.”
They are the courageous words of Lyndsey Clark, a Newcastle mother living with terminal breast cancer.
Facing your own mortality is a reality that no 29-year-old should ever have to grapple with, but for Ms Clark, that is her reality.
Nineteen months ago, her world was turned on its head when she received her cancer diagnosis.
From the start, the outlook was not good; her cancer was aggressive, and had spread from her breast to her liver and bones.
When she was told she had days to live, her world splintered.
But amid the nightmare, Ms Clark’s thoughts did not turn to herself or the unfairness of it all, but rather, to her then-five-year-old daughter Nyah, whose own life would be dramatically jolted.
“It was just all about her and just the way it was going to impact her and her life, and the fact that she would be walking her life without me,” Ms Clark said.
“I think I always knew that it was bad because I was so sick, and once they had discovered the cancer there, they were really fast in finding it in other places.
“I don’t remember feeling a time where I knew that I was going to beat it. I think I always knew I had it and I had it badly.”
Not long after the news came through, Ms Clark began writing a book for her daughter to help her comprehend the diagnosis and her mother’s seemingly insurmountable fate.
That book, titled My mummy has cancer, is now being published so other parents in similar situations can guide their children through the toughest of life’s chapters.
A web of support
Family is at the centre of Ms Clark’s world. It always has been.
With her husband of four years, Ben, by her side, they welcomed Nyah into their lives six-and-a-half years ago.
Their bond is strong — with photos showing twinkling smiles and a seemingly unbreakable connection gluing their small family together.
When the gloom of cancer swept in, their connection remained as strong as ever, and still does.
She started making lists of things she wanted for her husband and daughter, and had conversations about what life would be like after she was gone.
“It was really tough because I love being a mum. I have such a wonderful life, and to face not only [Nyah’s] loss but then my loss as well — you know, everything that I was about to lose, and am about to lose,” Ms Clark said.
“It’s hard because one couldn’t want for a better life. It’s a huge loss.”
Nyah’s experience of death to that point had only been when their family pet died. Losing her mother was a whole other level.
“She knew what it was to die, but I don’t think she quite understood the permanency of the situation,” Ms Clark said.