Amy: I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was still only 16

Mum was incredibly selfless – she was the most inspirational, amazing woman I have ever met

Amy with L-R sister Beth, dad Simon and mum Susan in 2013

Amy’s story:

“My mum Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just two years old. After fighting the illness for years, she died when I was still only 16. She was truly the most inspirational, amazing woman I have ever met.

My younger sister Beth and I were both still babies, when Mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer. In order to protect us, her illness was hidden from us for a long time as we were growing up – we simply didn’t know that anything was wrong. We had a normal childhood, and just continued doing what every normal family does. As children, we didn’t really question anything.

I was 13 when I first found out that Mum was ill - this was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer for a third time. It must have been so difficult for my dad Simon all those years, having to keep something like that a secret. Beth and I were told about Mum’s breast cancer when she lost her hair for a second time because of the chemotherapy she was going through. By this age, my sister and I could obviously tell that it wasn’t her real hair, unlike when we were a lot younger.

Amy with her mum Susan

We knew that Mum wasn’t going to get any better. She was put forward for a clinical trial, but unfortunately wasn’t accepted, because of how far the cancer had developed at that stage. By the summer of 2018, when I was 16 and my sister was 15, we knew that Mum didn’t have very long.

It was such a difficult time for us all. I was in my last year of high school and my sister was in her fourth year, but we tried to keep things as normal as possible. My mum kept working as a school auxiliary right up until August of 2018. That’s when it finally got too much for her. The last few months of her life, she was in and out of hospital and during the last week of her life in November 2018 she was admitted to St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh. Mum was only 47 when she died, which is just no age.

Even though you’re expecting the worst to happen, when it finally does, it doesn’t make it any easier. My dad became a single parent to two young girls and suddenly had to play the roles of both Mum and Dad. He did a brilliant job and my sister and I are both now at university and having a good time, but it was a huge adjustment for him. I’m so glad that four years on, he’s starting to get himself back out there. He’s just retired and is meeting more people and making new friends.

Amy, sister Beth and Mum Susan

Since Mum died, as well as throwing himself into his work prior to retirement, his focus has only been on myself and my sister - getting us through all our exams and our schoolwork. It was almost as though he didn’t have the opportunity to grieve himself, because he had so much else to focus on.

My memories of Mum are that she was incredibly selfless – I’m so glad that I got to call her my mum. Only a select few people outside the family knew that she was ill, until the weeks before she passed away as Mum didn’t want anyone to look at her or treat her any differently. She didn’t want anyone to think that she shouldn’t be working or that she wasn’t capable of doing something.

At work, only her boss knew about her illness, because she had to go for chemotherapy every Thursday. Everything my mum did was for my sister and I. Even though she’s no longer with us, my mum helped us get where we are today, studying at university and living our dreams. Mum always pushed us to do my best.

Amy’s parents, Susan and Simon

My advice to anyone going through the same thing as us, is that it does get better. You’ll never stop missing that person, but you do learn to cope with the grief and to live with it. Grief is something that never goes away, but you just learn how to adapt your life accordingly. By speaking about Mum, we really hope as a family that we might be able to help other people who have gone through the same as we have. Losing Mum has definitely brought our family closer together and has made us appreciate more what we do have in life.

I walked 26.2 miles overnight at The MoonWalk Scotland 2022 to honour my mum’s memory. By taking part in The MoonWalk, I wanted to not only raise awareness of breast cancer, but also some much needed funds. I completed the challenge with my boyfriend and his mum – she walks every year.

There were some points during The MoonWalk when we struggled, but we knew that we were walking for an amazing cause and one which was really close to our hearts. That really spurred us on. We all loved taking part – the colourful costumes everyone wears are amazing and the support we had on the streets of Edinburgh from Walk the Walk’s volunteers and from passers-by was incredible. The MoonWalk was such an enriching experience and I’m planning to take part again next year – I’ll be recruiting my Dad and my sister this time as well!

There are so many people like my mum who are no longer with us and who went through so much pain during their treatment. The very least we can do is walk for them and in honour of them”.

Amy’s boyfriend Calum and his mum Sue, with Amy at The MoonWalk Scotland 2022

Thank you for sharing your story Amy and we look forward to seeing you and your team at The MoonWalk Scotland 2023. Sign up now!


Bra picture

Get involved

Here's just a few ways of supporting us!