A mother is someone very special. She ia a friend, a teacher, a protector and many other things in the eyes of her children and grandchildren. In October, we honour all the mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters and other women who have been taken away by cancer too soon.
Below you’ll find Michael’s story about the effect her cancer diagnosis and passing away has had upon his family.
You always began a phone call by saying “Hi love, I was just thinking of you.” You were always thinking of others and, as I sit here writing this letter, I am waiting for your daily call to ask how your granddaughters and I are doing.
Each morning, I still find myself expecting the phone to ring. I wish I could hear your voice, and say hello. I really miss you Mum, and your comforting way of telling me that everything would be okay.
I won’t lie, some days are a lot harder than others. But, I want to tell you that whilst things here are really tough for everyone at the moment, the endless love you had for us gives us the strength to keep moving on exactly how you wanted us to. We are doing our best to make you proud.
There are some darker moments when it feels like the void that you have left in our lives seems overwhelming. On other days it feels like it has all just been a dream, and that I will come to visit you with the girls soon.
My favourite day of the week was always the day when I came to see you and Dad. You always greeted me with huge hugs and kisses.
I am imagining Olivia and Mia begging you to make your famous ravioli. You would always cook whatever the girls wanted for lunch or dinner when they were visiting, always generous with your secret ingredient of love.
And after we all had sat down together to eat, you would sneak them a treat when I wasn’t looking – much to their delight. I am so thankful they have those special memories in the kitchen with their grandmother.
You were always so passionate about looking after others, and your legendary cooking and hospitality displayed this best. This was your space, where you could be creative and nourish those you loved.
You were selfless beyond belief, and always put our needs before your own. I am truly grateful that you were such a loving and dedicated mother to me and Steven, and a committed wife to Dad – we could not have wished for anything more.
Back in March 2015, when we received the news about your illness, you didn’t flinch. Instead, you packed up your stuff, left the hospital and carried on with business as usual. Your only concern upon your diagnosis of an inoperable stage IV lung cancer was for Dad, my brother, me, and my girls.
Our entire family could not have been more shocked – we had no explanation for this. You never smoked and were always so healthy. At 63 years old, you were supposed to be enjoying a well-earned break during retirement, not facing this awful disease.
You did whatever you could, immediately taking on daily chemotherapy in tablet form until the cancer overpowered the treatment. In February 2016, we were so thankful that you had qualified to take part in a clinical trial, and we celebrated as your condition improved and you carried on with your life.
At times it was impossible to even believe you were so sick with incurable cancer, but we were never sure of what the future held for you Mum.
I still sit here wondering why and how this happened, and I daydream about what might have been in store for us as a family. But the reality is that we are still learning to navigate this surreal new world without you.
Steven continues to thrive. You had no doubts about that, he was always the strongest. He got that from you Mum.
We are keeping our promise to you and looking out for Dad, and he is doing the same for us and the girls. You would be proud to know he has been brilliant looking after the kids with me and picking them up from school. He has even been making their dinner – I am not joking!
He is doing his best Mum, but I know that he is truly heartbroken and sad without you here. I have never seen anyone miss someone this much. You two had such a magical, unbreakable bond.
Your commitment to him in the 50 years you shared was absolutely unwavering, as his was to you. I loved that you always did things together and that you never left each other’s side. Do you remember how Dad would always say to you “You are so special to me, Krystyna” and you would reply “Joe, I am just like everyone else, but you make me feel special”. I am lucky to have grown up surrounded by this love, and I am thankful my girls have too.
The girls ask about you every day, they miss you so much. They often ask me to send you a big kiss and cuddle, or ‘smoosh’ as they like to say.
Like you Mum, Mia and Olivia loved nothing more than spending time with you, particularly in the garden. They would jump up and down on the trampoline trying to impress you while you tended to your beautiful plants.
In the rare moments when I have to remind them of their manners, you are still the first person they ask for because you always went in to bat for them!
They are growing up so fast, too fast, just like you always said. I continue to treasure every moment with them, just like you told me to.
I plan on taking the girls to a musical each year to keep your love of music, dance and theatre alive in them.
Later this October I will be running the Melbourne Marathon to fundraise for cancer research. I know how much you wanted to be there with the girls and Dad cheering me on, but I’ll be running in your honour Mum.
And, I am determined to continue to do everything I can to make sure this disease can no longer tear loved ones away too soon.
In the end, we knew your last day was coming, but it crept up on us all so quickly. You took your last breaths in Dad’s arms, surrounded by those who loved you most.
All you wanted was to care for your friends and family, and make sure that we would be okay.
Every day your positivity shone through like a beacon of light. Over the years that you were ill, you refused the limelight and the fuss, but the truth is, you were the real star, and I know you are shining brightly somewhere.
Thank you for being my best friend and for loving our family unconditionally.
Rest easy. Mum, I love you.
Many Australian women have been lost to cancer. If you want to help outsmart cancer, and make a difference for Australians like Michael and his family, donate to cancer research now.
Your donation will help fund groundbreaking research into the development of new ways to detect cancer and new treatments.