My Mum died from breast cancer when I was just 15

It already meant a lot to be taking on the challenge for such a personal cause, and we think it’ll feel even more emotional and rewarding when we get to do it on the other side of the pandemic.

Left to right: Bridget and best friend Becca

“I’d just turned 12 years old and my sister was 15 years old when my Mum Sarah told us she was going to the doctor because she’d found a lump in her breast. I remember automatically assuming the worst. We’d just lost our grandad a week or so before to cancer, when we got the news that Mum had been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The worst came true. I didn’t know how to feel about it, because I was the only person I knew who was going through something like this. I remember it was the week before going back to school to start Year 8. My parents encouraged me to speak to my friends about it, which I eventually did.  

A week later, we were visiting Mum at the hospital where she had just had her operation to remove the tumour. Shortly afterwards, she started radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try and get rid of the cancer. I remember being really upset when I came home one day and she had cut her hair short, in preparation for when the chemo would make it all fall out. A few months later, we found out that the treatment had worked – Mum went into remission, and our lives could start to go back to normal, slowly her hair started growing back and she went back to work as a physiotherapist. However, she did suffer with lymphedema as a side effect of having one of her lymph nodes removed – something that caused major swelling in her arm and meant she lost some dexterity making some everyday tasks harder for her to do. 

In 2012, three years after she was first diagnosed, Mum suddenly noticed herself getting short of breath. I thought nothing of it. She went to the doctor’s as a precaution, a few referrals later and we found out that the cancer was back, and her lungs were filled with two litres of fluid. Scans showed it had also spread to her brain, spine and liver. We were devastated. This was the hardest part of the whole journey. Mum had a small procedure to fit a drain to get the fluid out of her lungs, but the procedure went wrong and she was in immense pain. She was in and out of hospital throughout this time, she’d had to stop driving because she had a seizure caused by the tumours in her brain, and her quality of life was deteriorating.

By this point, it was 2013 and I was studying for my GCSE’s and my sister for her A Levels, but we got through the exams. We were both looking forward to our school proms, which happened to fall on the same day! Mum came with us to choose dresses, booked us in to have our hair done and did all the normal things you would do with your mum. There was two weeks to go, I’d been at a friend’s house and I came home to Mum and Dad who said they wanted to speak to me. I sat in bed with Mum and Dad who told me that they had been to see the doctor, and there was nothing more they could do. The cancer was terminal. 

At 15 years old and with my school prom only a couple of weeks away, I asked Dad ‘Will I still be able to have my friends over to get ready for prom?’ as it had been planned for ages. ‘Surely Mum will be okay in two weeks?’ I said. A lot happened in that two weeks – I remember Mum being up in the night crying with pain, they moved her into a hospice to relieve her pain, we thought she was coming home. Prom night came around and Mum was still in the hospice, but I remember going in the day after and telling her about it, showing her the pictures which she loved, and spending the whole day by her side. She died the next day, on 29th June 2013.

I feel very lucky that we had the support around us that we did. Both of my parents have three siblings – my Mum has three sisters and my Dad has three brothers. My aunties all lived close by and helped all the time, taking mum to appointments, looking after my sister and I and generally being a shoulder to cry on. We are still very close - I look up to them so much plus they are so like my Mum and so close to each other which I love. My uncles on my dad’s side lived much further away, but again, as a support network for my mum and my dad, as well as me and my sister, they were fantastic. My friends were also very supportive – despite us all being so young they were so understanding, and I feel very grateful to have had them at that time.

I’ve known about The MoonWalk for a few years now – one of my Mum’s friends has done The MoonWalk Scotland and I have other friends who have done it and said how great it is. I had also seen the adverts on the tube and thought it would be good to do it one day. I decided to sign up this year because of my best friend Becca – she lost her Mum at a very young age to cancer, so it is something which is very close to both our hearts. She texted me on New Year’s Day asking me if I wanted to do The MoonWalk. I said yes straight away, knowing that it is a cause we both wanted to support in the year which marks 15 years since her Mum passed away and 7 years since my Mum died. We were so disappointed when we found out that due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s MoonWalk was unable to go ahead. 

When circumstances allow we can’t wait to get back out there training again and continuing to raise awareness of breast cancer. It already meant a lot to be taking on the challenge for such a personal cause, and we think it’ll feel even more emotional and rewarding when we get to do it on the other side of the pandemic.

Once we finally get the go-ahead, it’ll be such a great experience to be out walking alongside so many other people, all to remember those we’ve lost, celebrate those who are fighting their battle and hopefully make breast cancer a thing of the past. We are both raring to go!” - Bridget

Thank you for sharing Bridget and we look forward to seeing you and your friend Becca next year!

If you feel inspired to unite with us against breast cancer... check out our challenges here and if you would like to share your story with us, please email us and we will be in touch. 



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