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Losing my Mum and my Grandad 💜


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I have had many unfortunate losses of family members to cancer.

My Nan and Grandad when I was little.

My other Nan when I was a teen.

Other distantly related but dear to heart members too.

But losing my Mum 3 years ago was the worst. And it’s still the worst pain I’ve experienced, and it continues. Those memories, being in her home, seeing things she would have liked.

She was having trouble with kidney stones just as I was moving out of our family home around 6 years ago.

After many tests and back and forth with doctors it all seemed to be muddled up somehow and no answers were given. During this time, she was eating less, she was showing how her jeans didn’t fit her anymore. She was a size 16, she fit into my old size 8 jeans by the end of the year. Pressing the doctors we were finally given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

They operated on her, they said it would be hopeful as the tumour was right on the end of the pancreas and could easily be removed.

After the operation she recover slowly and was chirpy for a few months with chemotherapy to help give us more time with her. But she slowly went back down hill. They told us the cancer was found in her lymph nodes, that it has spread everywhere.

We had some more time either. But we was just left watching her waste away.

She laughed her way through most of it, it never seized to amaze me how much strength she actually had. I think through this is was in denial. There was no way I was losing my mum. That would be silly, I was only 26 and just had a baby girl. Of course she would be there to see her grow up and help babysit and teach her things. A big state of denial. And so I think I was on auto pilot. A big part of me took a step back and hid the reality of it all.

When she passed away in 2018 it hit me like a ton of bricks. I held her hand to the very last breath and I still hadn’t admitted what was happening. But then even after that I had to be strong for my dad and the rest of the family. I still went to work, supported my family, did odd jobs to help my dad out. It wasn’t until after the funeral when a family friend pulled me into a big hug and told me to stop holding it in I completely broke down. Cancer had taken my lovely mum away, my best friend, my guide through life.

I had never really believed in ‘heartache’ until then. Because it really does ache remembering them. I have lovely memories of her and I’m quite happy to talk about her, but when I’m on my own I struggle still getting my head around it. I still have dreams of her, and in my dreams I realise she’s gone and cry so hard I wake myself up.

Time does make it easier but it doesn’t take the pain away completely.

She was happy with her family. And we were given the time thankfully to spend it with her .

But that wasn’t the case unfortunately with my grandad. My mums dad. Now he was 85, had a huge heart attack back 10 years ago, but got through that. Served in the war, got through that, dementia diagnosed, diabetes, you name it. But he conquered his way through it. He was such a fighter. My auntie was looking after him throughout lockdown, she helped me video call him most days to check see how he was. And he was always so happy.

A month ago he complained of sudden uncomfortable pains. Drs diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer.

Not this again. They said it was too late to do anything at all, that he was also too fragile to treat. I went to see him after my auntie told me. Obviously we were still in lockdown but I had this dreadful feeling. I needed to see him.

And it was a lovely afternoon, we sat chatting about his past, he got his old photos out and he showed me his time in maylasia when he was younger for the army. How he met my Nan and had my mum and auntie.

He was a great story teller.

He said he was ready now, that God had obviously said it’s time for him. And he looked so at peace.

It was some sort of closure to me then.

I told him I loved him and I’d make sure to tell his stories.

A week later I got a call saying he was all but bed ridden. I went to see him, but grandad wasn’t coherent at all. They had him on morphine and I noticed he looked the same as mum in her final week. I told my auntie I don’t think we have much time with him.

So I said goodbye and held his hand. I was planning on coming the next day to help my aunt.

She called me about 12pm saying he had passed away.

It was so quick. His cancer must have been more progressive. Or maybe it’s because he didn’t put up a fight?

I don’t know. But it felt ok because of what he had told me. It didn’t feel ok that it was the same killer as my mums. That it once again had took someone so special to me.

These days I can only look back and think ‘if only’. Knowing I can’t change anything is frustrating, hopefully we can find an indication of this cancer at an earlier stage so more families can have more time with their loved ones. 💜

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. It has been a heavy burden.

I wish you well. X

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PCUK Nurse Dianne

Dear Littlebird,

Thank you for sharing your most heartfelt thoughts. I am sure this has been a sad and emotional time for your family as you mention losing a very special friend in Mum and then your lovely Grandad.

It was lovely to hear about your wonderful Grandad, as you mentioned such a great life he has had, and heart warming to hear you speak so proudly of his serving in the war and sharing his stories.

I am sure having pancreatic cancer occur again in your family must feel so unjust Littlebird. Amidst your sadness and loss however I noted the warmth in your voice and how important Family is to you.

It is so wonderful to hear that you have had such special moments with Grandad in his last weeks Littlebird, please appreciate this must have been so special for Him too. You mentioned Grandad looked at 'peace' and had spoken about finding his own peace, so very important. You sound to be a very special person Littlebird and probably gave Grandad more than you imagine in those last weeks of visits and listening to his stories.

I am sure other members of this forum family will resonate with your thoughts and thank you for so eloquently sharing them.

Take care of yourself over the weeks and months ahead Littlebird and continue to remember those very special days you have shared with Grandad most recently.

Thinking of you with heartfelt thoughts.


Pancreatic Cancer Specialist nurse

Pancreatic Cancer UK

Support line: 0808 801 0707

Monday to Friday 09am to 4pm

Wednesdays 10am - 6pm.

email: nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk

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