I have never really written on these discussion boards before - I always felt like they were more for the people out there actually in pain and suffering... I just want to tell my story and my mum's to people who get it - I don't mind if nobody replies or anything.
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. She had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy, and her lymph nodes on that side were removed as well. I was 14.
In about 2001, they discovered secondaries in her lungs, liver and sternum. Since then she has had chemotherapy at increasing intervals, from 3 years to about 6 months the last time.
In about 2003 the tumour in mum's sternum ulcerated through her chest. It grew just about continuously and just before she died she was living with an open wound about 4inches long and 2 inches wides between her breasts.
In 2006 I was camping through Europe with my boyfriend when I got a phone call from my dad saying I had to come home immediately. That was the hardest 48 hours of my life. We had to get rid of our hire car, book flights and somehow get a grip on what was happening. When we finally got on the plane I just about fell apart. I am Australian, and we had 30 hours of travel and connecting flights to try and get home. The last thing my dad said before we left Europe was to call from Bangkok, as he didn't think she would make it until then.
She did. My mum was a fighter. With the support of her whole family in the hospital (about 40 of us), she made it to and past her 56th birthday. When she got out of hospital she immediately started planning her next adventure and last year went to the Rugby World Cup in France with my dad. She then began planning a trip to Damascus to visit my uncle this February.
Around mid last year though, she had to have more chemo. My mum was 5ft9in and dropped from about 80kg to 50kg. I don't know what that is in pounds, but she went from a US size 10 to a US size 0. She was a dietitian, and I know the import of the weight loss was not lost on her, but she just couldn't bring herself to eat.
Mum went back into hospital in December 2007. She was in over Christmas and we organised a video link-up so that she could be part of our big family party on Christmas Eve. I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital with her and my grandmother.
Mum got out of hospital on about 3 January 2008. She was at home for only a week.
On 10 January my dad called me again and said I needed to come home right away (I live about 2 hours away). I left work and drove straight there with sister 4. Sister 2 drove 11 hours straight north that night.
On 12 January, just before my dad arrived after going home for a shower, my mum fell asleep. I thought that she was gone and only her body kept breathing.
We kept a 24 hour vigil at the hospital for the next 2 days - the last thing mum said was that she didn't want to be alone.
At 2pm on 13 January, my dad gave the hospital permission to remove mum's oxygen tube. Mum held on.
At around 4am on 14 January, mum woke up. She couldn't speak, but when you spoke to her she made noises and tried to respond - it was as if she thought she was talking normally. My dad got to say goodbye.
At 2:30pm that day, the nurses cam in to turn mum and change her dressings. I left the room for about a minute and they came straight back out and said "Get back in there now and get your sisters". I yelled to my sisters and ran in to the room. I was sitting there with her holding her hand when she died.
It was my 26th birthday.
I'm sorry. that's all i can write today.