On the 23rd January 2017, 20-year-old Lauren Cheshire’s world fell apart while her mothers went into darkness. However, her light still shines brightly through her daughter – Lauren makes sure of that.
Her mother’s battle was strong, but unfortunately – just as in the case of many others – the cancer was stronger.
Michelle Louise Cheshire passed away with just 43 years to her name.
Though her youth was no match to the cancerous cells in her body.
Cancer does not discriminate against age, gender nor class.
Heartbreakingly just under half of those diagnosed will not survive a further ten years after falling victim to the disease, according to Cancer Research UK.
There were around 41,300 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK in 2014, that’s 110 cases diagnosed every day.
Michelle’s day came to become part of this sad statistic, however, her personality and strength refused that – every cancer patient, whether survivor or angel, stands out from the numbers and refuses to be remembered with the dreaded ‘c’ label.
After countless operations to rid her body of the cancerous cells alongside the agony of putting her body through chemotherapy Michelle’s body was defeated – though her spirit was not. Not once did this incredible woman moan. Not once did she bow down to cancer.
Lauren recalled that at one point her mother was even given the all clear:
“Unfortunately, the cancer came back and spread all over her body and the doctors were unable to get rid of it this time around.”
“Mum and I have always been close. She was the only parent that has been permanently in my life. I was always a Mummy’s Girl, no doubt about it! As I’ve grown up we drifted slightly but I always knew I could rely on Mum. I told her almost everything, we would have nights where we ate takeaways and gossiped.
“We had facemask nights and all sorts.”
Lauren was by her mother’s side throughout. Whether it was doctors appointments and chemotherapy or just helping Michelle laugh through the bad times. Though no joke was funny enough to help her mother smile through losing chunks of her hair.
Though even these scenes could not prepare Lauren for the inevitable. It’s impossible to ever prepare.
“I remember sitting in the living room with Josh and my Mums best friend, Laura. Josh had just brought us a McDonald’s Breakfast and we were about to go to the Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury to visit Mum.
“Laura got the phone call that we’d all been dreading. I remember my heart sinking. At the time, we were having our back garden done for my Mum as she always took pride in her garden.
“It was being done nicely for her for when she came out of the hospital and could relax in the garden.
“I went into the back garden where the workers were busy doing the garden and I just broke down saying ‘she’s gone. Mum’s gone’.
“I didn’t really know what was to come next. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the fact that I’d have to say my final goodbyes to her. There wasn’t any real preparation.”
No advice or counseling could prepare Lauren for the enormity of the loss. It doesn’t always matter how many people promise to be there – grief is lonely. Even for those who aren’t alone.
“I don’t know anyone in the same situation as me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad that no one I know is going through this. Losing a parent is fucking hard, especially at this age. I’m thankful that no one else I know is going through this pain. I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy.”
The grief that children feel when losing a parent stays with them for the rest of their life – it’s more something that they learn to live with and accept then a grief they ever ‘get over’. No parent would want to look down and see their child fall apart without them.
“My life is still very much affected by this loss and I know it will be for a very long time. I miss my Mum ridiculous amounts. I miss being able to talk to her and get her advice on things.
“She was fab at advice. She was my nurse, she always looked after me and gave me medical advice. I still go to text my Mum if something funny happens at work/whilst I’m out and then I remember and realise ‘I can’t talk to her anymore’.”
Though Lauren’s grief is still raw she has some advice for others coping with the aftermath of life after cancer.
“It’s okay not to be okay. Grief is a bitch. You’ve got to take that bitch by the horns and get over it yourself but take your time. Don’t rush. Don’t try to put on a front, the front does crumble (I say this from experience). Focus on yourself- if you want a day in bed, have a day in bed. If you want to go out, go out. Do whatever makes you happy or at least takes your mind off of things.”
“Finally, Do NOT complain about one of your parents to a person who has just lost one of their parents. I’d do anything to have my Mum back in my life, I’d do anything to have her annoying texts about random crap, I’d love to have her on my back because I’ve had a lie in and wasted the day. I’d love to hear her nag at me about a messy room or a bad outfit choice. I don’t have that, we don’t have that anymore. So complaining to us about your parent will not be met with any sympathy.”