“I’m not scared about what happens to me, I just don’t want to miss out on you three”. All Mum wanted was more time and more Christmases with us. If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever.

Mum was the centre of our world. She passed away in September 2022 after a 22-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She always made Christmas special for me, my brother and my sister. It is hard to believe that another year is ending without her. She is missed every day but is especially #MISSEDatChristmas. 

Make a donation, leave a dedication to your #MISSED loved one and receive your purple heart memory to display this Christmas. Pancreatic cancer.

There are not enough words to describe how amazing Mum really was. Mum was a gentle soul, kind, caring, and witty. She had unbelievable strength and resilience. She was special. Above all, she was healthy – didn’t smoke, rarely drank, and had never really been unwell.  

We celebrated mum’s 60th birthday in February 2020, a whole weekend packed with surprise celebrations for the woman who meant the most to us. Mum’s dreams had come true two months previously when she became a Granny for the first time. The start of 2020 was perfect, and even as we headed into lockdown, we truly embraced it as we live on a Scottish island and enjoyed our own little slice of paradise. Spending our days at the beaches that mum grew up on, just ourselves in the glorious sunshine. We were blissfully unaware of how the rest of the year would unfold. 

In June 2020, Mum started complaining of bloating in her stomach. We had a curry for dinner that night, so we thought it could be that. When the feeling persisted, she decided to go to the Doctor. With Covid still being an issue, the doctors weren’t keen to see her. She was fobbed off with Gaviscon numerous times and told no further investigations were needed. This was the start of her battle, and she wasn’t giving up. 

Considering her blood tests had always been good, we could never predict what was to come. In October 2020, the Doctor called her up to the surgery to tell her a scan showed a mass on her pancreas. The first thing she asked was, “What will I tell my children?”. The positive news was that it was a tumour restricted to her pancreas, with no spread, and her oncologist was hopeful it would be taken out. Six rounds of chemo and an operation was her treatment plan. If only things were as simple as that. Living on an island meant any appointment involved a lot of travelling, the uncertainty of getting a ferry booking, hotel stays, early starts, and late nights arriving back home. It was January 2021 before she started her first gruelling chemo. She suffered every single side effect and ended up in hospital with life-threatening sepsis in March 2021. We finally got her home four weeks later. The chemo had caused so much damage to her that she was diagnosed with broken heart syndrome – something that is caused by trauma and stress on your body. Two months later, her heart had fully repaired. She never ceased to amaze us.  

July came around, and she was put on a different type of chemo, which wasn’t as aggressive. Her scan showed it hadn’t worked, but the tumour hadn’t spread. Plan C was then put in place. She spent two weeks at the Beatson in Glasgow for radiotherapy in December 2021, and although getting the treatment was a bit more of a palaver than she first thought, she handled the side effects better.  All was well; the radiotherapy had done what they had intended it to do, and the plan was to leave Mum be. Let her enjoy her life, and that she did.

She picked up a serious bowel infection along with a stomach ulcer in April the following year. During her hospital stay, tests indicated that things were changing, and in May she was offered more chemo. This was her last chance. “I’ll do anything,” she said. “I’m not scared about what happens to me; I just don’t want to miss out on you three,” she told me. All she wanted was more time with us. She managed two rounds of chemo before she picked up sepsis again. This led to another three weeks in hospital before we got her home. She planned to restart her chemo, but it wasn’t to be. 

She enjoyed a glorious week in the sunshine at the end of August with her two sisters, sitting in the garden, enjoying good food and her favourite company. I’d read many times that this cancer creeps up on you quickly but even then, it wasn’t so obvious to us as she just grew a little sleepier the following week. As we watched the announcement of the Queen’s passing, I sat there quietly, tears filling my eyes, looking over to our precious Mum thinking we were about to lose ours. Everything that we had fought for since November 2020 was coming to an end, and I was powerless. Mum and I were pretty much inseparable, almost like the roles had reversed for us. Usually, I could fix any of her problems with a quick Google, a phone call, some medication, a massage to ease her leg pain or rearranging her pillows but now it was out of my control. Even when the doctor and nurse came to our house to explain that this would be happening soon, it all felt so surreal. We set up camp in Mum’s room. My brother, my sister, my little dog who had been by Mum’s side so faithfully throughout everything and myself. And we waited. 

Our wonderful Mum put up a heroic fight. Most people don’t know half the things she went through but it’s important that they do. You would never catch Mum feeling sorry for herself or asking why me? We told her she was brave, she said she had no choice but that’s not true. To put yourself through all this treatment knowing just how bad the side effects can be is brave. To put herself through all that just to have more time with us, to delay our heartbreak just by a little showed her true devotion to us. All her life she had been devoted to us. So many people described mum as stoic and that she was. A fighter to the very end. 

She passed away on 14th September 2022 with her three children and her sister by her side at home where she wanted to be, the place that she rarely wandered far from all her life. If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever.