On Christmas Eve 2019, I learned my mum had stage IV bowel cancer. She was only in her early 50s.
Neither of us had really heard of bowel cancer before.
We dismissed her food sensitivities and fatigue because she was a single mother looking after me and my three siblings, with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders.
Since losing my dad to brain cancer several years before, our life had been very challenging, but Mum knew how to find joy in the simple things.
She was a cup half-full sort of person.
She always had a smile on her face and had a great sense of humour.
She loved the finer things in life - interior design, jewellery, fashion, and she loved to write.
But above all else, she loved her children.
We were so close; we were almost one and the same.
I could talk to her about anything and everything.
By the time Mum was diagnosed, she was told it was inoperable.
She tried several chemos, but they all had bad side effects, including fevers, which meant she had to stay in the COVID section of the emergency department every time she had to go in for cancer related issues.
The COVID-19 restrictions triggered Mum’s claustrophobia and anxiety, and the state and national lockdowns meant she couldn’t see or say goodbye to her siblings or mother who live overseas, or even her local friends.
But thanks to Bowel Cancer Australia, we didn’t have to go through it all alone.
The Bowel Care Nurse and Nutritionist support made our situation so much more manageable and less isolating.
But that’s only possible through the generosity of people like you.
My mum died in September 2020, at the young age of 52.
Luckily, I got to spend one full day in hospital with her a week before she passed.
It was just me and her.
She was glowing, her beautiful green eyes gleaming as bright as ever.
I slept beside her; she was so happy to wake up to me.
I loved her innocence in those final moments.
I just wish we knew that you can have bowel cancer for years and experience no symptoms and that young people can get it too.
It was only after Mum began to experience severe pain in her back and leg and felt a lump in her stomach that she went to see the GP.
It’s so important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing anything unusual for you.