Founder/Creator of the Feel Teal Club
A Special Memory…..
The years have passed since I first came to know Ovarian cancer – it silently crept into our lives and left a trail of destruction as it walked out.
My mother was the healthiest and happiest she had been in a long while, even planning a holiday overseas with my father. As the days began winding down to the trip, Mum began noticing a few little annoying discomforts in her body, but given that most women go through many changes over their lifetime, Mum wasn’t extremely bothered.
As she went about her usual daily walks with her neighbour, the strange pain in her back became more prominent, so too the unusual swelling of her tummy. What was it? Wind? Had Mum gained a few pounds?
The scales certainly didn’t show this to be the case and yet as each day went by, her stomach got larger, leaving Mum with a feeling of ‘fullness’. The backaches worsened, she complained once or twice of aching legs but I’d merely put this down to her increased amount of exercise.
One day, during one of our telephone ‘chats’, she joked saying she looked as if she were about six months pregnant. It was the strangest thing, but we both agreed it was time to see what her GP thought.
It was March 2000 and the GP’s first prognosis was the possibility of a prolapsed bladder. He wasn’t entirely sure, so he sent Mum for further tests. Mum was becoming anxious.
The plane was leaving Sydney in April as Dad had planned for them to arrive in London on Mum’s 63rd birthday as a big part of celebrating their journey! This was to be the cream of the crop of all trips, but there was something more sinister waiting and it would soon become clear.
An ultrasound was followed by a cat scan which warranted further investigation after a mass was located on Mum’s ovary.
The CA-125 blood test would determine Mum’s level of protein, a marker for tumours. Her levels came back high and so it was confirmed. My mother had cancer, Ovarian Cancer.
Holiday bags were suddenly unpacked, and Mum re-packed for a trip to hospital. On 10th May, 2000 Mum spent over seven hours in theatre, undergoing major-radical surgery. Finally a nurse appeared with news – not good, but news none the less. She gestured us into the ICU ward… sheer silence.
Fear hit almost instantly and I felt as though I had shrunk in body size as I looked at my mother. I have described this feeling over and over and yet still the same words…Mummy! Mummy!
I felt my legs going from underneath me as we made our way down the corridor from the ward, my sister holding me. We wandered that hospital lost and in limbo. Ovarian Cancer had taken so much from Mum, aging almost overnight. This woman of strength and vitality, reduced to a weak weary soul…..but she fought on.
Mum was finally released in mid June 2000.
On my last trip caring for her, I’d promised to bring back the hat she had admired me wearing, the chemo she was about to undergo would cause hair loss and I didn’t really imagine my mother in the wig my sister and father had chosen.
On 3 July 2000, my phone rang. The next door neighbour’s voice calmly told me Mum had fallen and I was needed today instead of tomorrow. Hanging up I reached for my pre-packed backpack which sat beside our door. Gulping down as much coffee as possible, I headed towards the front door. The phone rang again. This time, not the neighbour but Dad, crying and choking on his words…’Debbie…your mother’s gone’.
We had never heard of this cancer, we were NOT aware! I can’t save my Mum, but my experience will surely help to save another.
Working to make a difference
“Someone needs to warn others!” These words etched in Debbie’s mind, and her life, she is now dedicated to ensuring women and girls everywhere are fully armed with information via her awareness campaigns.
Debbie found writing her salvation, with her first collection of poems accepted for publication, dedicated to the memory of her mother. Her quest was that every book would serve as a resourceful tool in spreading the awareness message while opening other doors.
Today, Debbie has self-published eight books, each a vehicle to educate.
“Follow a Freesia” shares details and information of what every woman should know about this cancer and where they can seek further advice and support.