The MoonWalk London – a very personal reason for taking part

I told her about my walking. That my Line Manager said I needed to have something to focus on and that she was going to sign up to The MoonWalk London and do the 26.2 miles if I wanted to join her. My Mum thought I was slightly nuts but was happy to support me. I made her promise that she’d come with Dad and my better half to watch me cross the Finish Line. She promised.

Hi, I’m Victoria and this journey has been a very short one compared to some.
Cancer runs in my family. Not one particular cancer, it’s quite varied. All one one side – that’s probably why my Mum kept a secret from me for so long – out of fear.
She lost her Mum and her Brother to cancer. Her brother died in his late forties, they were very close growing up and with one older sister, the three of them were devastated when their Mum suffered – then passed away.

It’s all been a bit of a blur for me if I’m totally honest. Mum found a lump in her breast, her nipple had also become inverted. Of course, my Dad noticed but was sworn to secrecy. I think my Mum had forgotten just how bad my Dad was at keeping secrets, although 2 months was probably a record for him! I shouldn’t joke about it, it wasn’t funny when he blurted it out over the Sunday dinner one week late in June. Especially with our then 9yr old sat there too. Fortunately for us, he’s not one to ask 1001 questions about things….unless it’s football related.

So once I knew, the first thing I did that week (on the Wednesday) was visit the Doctor with her at the local surgery. I have to say, the Doctor was fantastic and she was very honest with my Mum, that it had the potential to be serious but it was better to be sure – a 2 week wait for the Hospital to see her.

It was less than 2 weeks. I went to as many appointments with her as I could, along with my Dad. When I couldn’t go, he went and vice versa. I remember them doing the biopsies and watching as my mum took off her bra – I saw her breast and knew it wasn’t great. Then I saw it on the screen. A mass. When they put the needle in for the sample, it didn’t deflate – my mum winced as we chatted about what we were having for dinner that night with the nurses. Sausages and mash, one of mum’s favourites.

I was at work when mum went for her results. Dad went with her, I knew deep down what it was but when you hear the word “Cancer” it just makes it seem that bit more real. When I saw them at home that night for dinner, it took Mum a while to pluck up and say something to me and the first thing she did was say sorry. She apologised for the fact she had Cancer. That I would probably have it at some point and that our little girl of only 16 months would probably have it too. What do you say to that? I told her that if it ever came to that, we would deal with it. Probably not the best answer but it was all I could come up with at the time.

By this point it was late August and her operation. A mastectomy and removal of lymph nodes. Recovery was slow, she was always very active and hated not being able to do anything. Hated not being at work. Her stubbornness only hindered progress and was driving us all mad. Lifting, hoovering, ironing, cleaning. You name it…she did it and quite a few times was in and out of hospital having excess fluid drained. It put back the radiotherapy by weeks. Treatment finally finished by the end of the October 2014. Then the next setback. A routine scan after the Radiotherapy picked up something in her arm bone.

It was back. Not just in her arm, but in her lower spine near the base too. Right. It’s ok, we’ll fight it! Don’t care how long it takes but we’ll fight it together! It turns out that the Cancer had other ideas. By November, Mum was in a lot of pain, having trouble walking and progress was slow. Scans and decisions always seem to take forever when you want clear, definitive answers don’t they?

I told her about my walking. That my Line Manager said I needed to have something to focus on and that she was going to sign up to The MoonWalk London and do the 26.2 miles if I wanted to join her. My Mum thought I was slightly nuts but was happy to support me. I made her promise that she’d come with Dad and my better half to watch me cross the Finish Line. She promised.

Come Christmas Eve, it all got a bit much. Mum ended up in A&E. The pain, unbearable. She’d been unable to sleep for over a week, was being constantly sick and not able to keep much down. She thought it was the medication. Another scan showed the Cancer in the spine had now become more aggressive. It had started to press on nerves. Mum being mum, as I found out later, had refused to stay in hospital for treatment over Christmas. She’d wanted to come home. To be with her family.

It was lovely to have her there but couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t right. Dad confided in me that Mum was having problems with her bowel movements.

New Years Day Eve we went out, all of us together to our favourite Indian restaurant as we always did, my parents, my partner, his parents, our children, my partner’s Aunt and Cousin, his Uncle and his Grand-Daughter. Wow! A real get-together! Anyway, Mum really enjoyed it, I could tell. She said it was one of the best meals she’d ever eaten, the bonus was sitting next to her little Grand-Daughter. Lovely.

Then it all went wrong.

Mum went to A&E on the 2nd January 2015.
Dad took her.
She refused an ambulance.

All she talked about during her time in hospital was getting out and walking again.
The Cancer robbed her of feeling in her legs. Her left leg in particular, swelled up and became uncomfortable. The Cancer pressed on nerves in the spine, no feeling in her legs and no feeling when it came to her bowels either. Radiotherapy was about to resume to try and relieve the pressure to get the feeling back. So was Physiotherapy. But then Mum’s stomach swelled and her bowel perforated because of it. They didn’t operate though. The Doctors felt there was no need and that the problem could be controlled by a special diet until the hole healed itself. Another setback as Mum said. I had to keep reminding her that she would walk, it was just a question of when and a reminder to be patient.

On the Sunday, 11th Jan, we visited mum in hospital. By “we” I mean myself, my partner Lewis and our eldest. We watched the Darts final on mum’s bedside t.v and chatted. Her leg was playing on her mind again. The Doctor had been due to use ultrasound on the leg on the Friday but was delayed for some reason or another. I said I’d see her on the Wednesday because I had two 12-9 shifts to work and visiting hours didn’t work out.
We texted each other on the Monday, – still no ultrasound – and phoned every day anyway so wasn’t surprised when she rang me at work on the Tuesday 13th. I’d texted her in the morning, asking about breakfast, if she’d managed to sleep at all. The call wasn’t the most positive I have to say. I just missed a text when I checked my phone. As she’d said “another setback”. When I asked her what it was – a blood clot was found in her left leg when they did the ultrasound scan. She didn’t sound her normal self.

I phoned my Dad. I told him to get himself up to the hospital smartish. So he made it in time for 2pm. Visiting hours. I was hoping it would cheer her up a bit.
Within 15 minutes of my Dad being there.
She’d gone.
My Mum.

The Physiotherapist had turned up to work on her legs, to try and get her mobile. It was all she’d wanted. To be able to walk out the hospital and through our front door to see her grand-children.

The blood clot went straight up to her lung.
Primary cause of Death was the clot caused by the secondary Breast Cancer.

It’s all still very surreal.
She was meant to come home.
I’d told her we wouldn’t care if she was in a wheelchair, she meant more to us.
She said she didn’t want to be a burden and to put her in a home!

Years ago now, I remember her saying to me that she didn’t want to get old. She wanted to die young. I told her not to be so daft (or words to that effect).

No more suffering now. She got her wish.
I hope she’s there to watch me on the night.
Walking has helped me to cope. I can get upset and no-one knows. It’s helped me to think. I’ve been training on my own for a while now. An extra mile at a time. One of my very good friends, Jo, helped me get going. Now all I’ve got to do is finish it.

For my Mum.
Eileen Hutchison Thomson
11/12/50 – 13/01/15




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