Secondary breast cancer: A letter to my mum on Mother’s Day

Ismena Clout

ismena 300x225 Secondary breast cancer: A letter to my mum on Mothers DayDear Mum

There is so much I want to say that is hard to verbalise so I hope you accept this letter to you. In a funny way, my secondary breast cancer diagnosis brought us closer together. Combined with my counselling I think we get on better than before, but there is so much sadness I feel.

One of the things that makes me hope for more time is the thought of leaving you early. I can’t bear the thought that I could bring so much sadness and grief by dying before you. No parent should bury their children and I really hope that isn’t the case for us.

I know you sometimes think I had a difficult childhood and while there were challenges, I remember the good times too. You made Christmas so special, as kids we had massive trees full of colourful, sparkling ornaments. I think this is where I got my first taste of being a bit of a magpie! And one year you were even able to leave the magical Christmas tree up till August! Every year you’ve sent me a Valentine’s card, and thanks to a problem with Royal Mail this year I got two!

Where you really excel though is Easter. Even to this day I still get a basket filled with little chicks, toys, chocolate and flowers too. This brings me so much joy and has made Easter such a special holiday. You were the cool mum who went to see Queen at Knebworth and volunteered to be the adult chaperone when my friends and I went to see A-ha in concert aged 12-years-old.

I feel great sadness that I will never be able to pass these loving things onto my own children and that you won’t be able to bring such joy to your grandchildren. That empty place in both our hearts for the next generation will never be filled and I’m so sorry to be the cause of that.

One solace we can find in our relationship is each other. My mortality has forced us to examine our relationship and make sure we understand and support each other better than we ever had before. I love you so much and am so thankful that you are my mum, my quirky, eccentric and beautiful mother.

Let’s start focusing on your move to Manchester, as once it’s complete I will feel happy knowing that you are settled and ready for the next stage of your life. So while cancer is robbing us of one aspect of our lives together let’s make the most of what we have!

Your lambkin



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  • mj james

    why are people putting their private life in the national newspaper, everyone has problems deal with it, by talking with a friend, a mate, a doctor, a priest, a nun, not in the national papers!!!

  • helena h

    Ismena is raising awareness and dealing with ignorance about secondary breast cancer by her regular blogs in the Independent. Yes this one is very personal but I was very honoured I was able to read it. If you don’t want to read it don’t.

  • Shazad Chohan

    She is sharing with readers who has some sense and feelings for humans, I have full support and sympathy with her, may God bless her with quick recovery and good health, after all Miracles do happen.

  • Shazad Chohan

    She has every right to share her feelings with like minded people, who have some respect for humans. may Allah Bless her with quick recovery with good health Ameen.

  • Ersie Courea

    sTAGE 3 is light years away from stage 4 if you start exercising intensely and overhauling your diet. Raw food 80%is best. Visit my blog on google Furious curious cancer survivor

  • richard.loe22

    Couldn’t have put it better myself Ismena. I found the same thing in my relationship with my father when I was diagnosed with cancer. They give us a prognosis, but it is only a prognosis and we’re not dead yet! So like you say, make the most of what you have. Good luck!

  • mike mcginty

    I have lost a wife, a mother , two brother in laws, a mother in law, and a close friend in a two year period to cancer. Thank you for sharing with the world your personal thoughts. God Bless

  • SophieMarshall

    I wonder if you have ever been tested for any kind of dissociative disorder? There has to be some explanation for your peculiar response to a journalist writing very affectingly about a personal journey. If we don’t have information about things disseminated by the press and by people directly involved can you explain to me how we are ever to leave your kind of attribution of selfish arrogation of feelings in the dustbin where they belong and learn to understand how to help others and share valuable information?

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