Belfast Telegraph

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Son and a daughter say the pain of losing your mum never goes away

Jason Hughes (37) is a presenter for Downtown Country. He lives in Londonderry and has a son Charley (6). His mum, Iris, passed away in 2011. He says:

My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in October, 2011, when she was given eight weeks left to live - and that's exactly how long she lasted. The only way I can describe knowing that my mum was going to die is that it felt like I was drowning. Even though it was my mum who was dying, I felt as though I was going to die too, but I just didn't know when. There was nothing I could do about it.

Mum wasn't ill until her last week of life. She had two weeks of radiotherapy in Belfast and the doctors discovered the lung cancer had spread to her brain creating a small tumour. The treatment was to shrink the growth so she would have a better quality of life in her last days.

Before she died, mum wrote out her funeral arrangements and saw her friends. She had conversations with all of us - her children and grandchildren.

My cousins, who lost their father suddenly to a heart attack, said they thought it was better that way than to know a parent is going to die and not be able to do anything about it. For me, I had the chance to ask questions like how she met my father, and how to iron a shirt properly.

Mum died on December 17, 2011 and in August 2012 we set up Northern Irish Cancer Care - our emblem is an Iris in memory of my mum.

We would drive up and down to the hospital every day to visit mum and I realised some of the patients who have to travel to Belfast for treatment may not necessarily have access to transport.

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For this reason, I thought we should raise funds for a minibus to provide a service for those who need it.

It's a simple thing, but I get so much out of driving that bus.

It's not just providing transport, we've even organised other services, such as pet sitters for those who don't have anyone to look after their pets when they are in hospital.

Providing something like that means they have one less thing to worry about.

The charity is run by my dad, my sister and myself and you can see people's spirits raised when they benefit from the services we offer. It means a lot to them, and we feel if we can make life a little easier for them it's worth it.

For more information call Northern Irish Cancer Care or tel: 028 7134 1620

Rachel Harriott (39) owns and runs Harriott Communications. She lives in Belfast with her husband Craig and their children, Jake (12) and Evvie (7). Her mum, Terrie passed away in 2003. She says:

My mum died just a couple of months after my son Jake was born in 2003. She got sick around Christmas time with the flu and she just couldn't shake it off.

Her health took a turn for the worst around the end of March when she had gone to America for work. While in the States, she was taken to hospital and treated for pneumonia and eventually got the all-clear to come home.

As soon as she arrived home, my dad brought her to hospital. I can remember how she was when she first went in - sitting on the hospital bed writing out a to-do list, wearing full make-up. But none of us knew just how ill she really was.

From that point on, she just deteriorated - we didn't know why. She got sicker and when her breathing went, she was taken to an intensive care ward. She passed away not long after that in April.

It took a post-mortem examination to reveal that mum had died of pancreatic cancer. They call it one of the hidden cancers because it's so difficult to diagnose. Apparently you're almost better off not knowing that you have it because it's so aggressive.

It's nearly 15 years since my mum died and I still miss her terribly and get wobbly moments. We were like sisters - she taught me how to dress, how to put make-up on and everything else. She was amazing and I loved her so much.

She was snatched away from me with no chance to say goodbye. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't had my husband Craig and my family to lean on. Jake was only a couple of months old when I lost my mum so I was adjusting to being a new mother too. Having a good strong family network like my dad and my brother was a real help.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph