My mother was an absolute survivor. The first time round. She got ovarian cancer when I was still quite young, so I didn't really know what was going on, I didn't really bother myself with it and I had all my kid things to do so I was really out of the loop. Not to forget that I have forgotten most of my childhood, there are huge gaps in my memory. But I remember she was a survivor. She was tough enough to get through one of the worst cancers for women and stay strong afterwards. She always was a tough lady, beautiful, kind, caring and never would show her toughness, but it was on the inside. She was mentally strong. An absolute survivor.
But then came the second time. It started with a horrible pain in her back, and as a doctor, she immediately thought that it might be kidney stones or something similar. She had been without cancer for over five years and that mark was something that for most people meant they wouldn't get the same cancer again. So she never considered the possibility of having ovarian cancer. Again. Without a womb or ovaries.
The pain was caused by a massive tumour that was blocking the tube between one of her kidneys and her bladder. Then they noticed the other tumours. All of them. They had probably started in her stomach lining and metastasised from there. But she was tough, tougher than ever, she went through chemo again, she went through every possible cancer treatment available and out of all the pain and suffering and side-effects the medication caused her, she never showed a sign of giving in to it.
She even went to work for all the years between 2003 and 2008 with metastasised cancer and working tougher than ever to get her goal: work for long enough so her pension wouldn't diminish. Because here, her pension is what is halfway left for the living after someone passes away.
My mother knew after a few years that she wasn't going to survive this one, she didn't tell it in the beginning, but after about four years she told us, me and my dad, that she's sure it will not be cured. Because they had gone through all the best chemo medication in the beginning, and nothing had really worked, then they had started with all the older, less effective drugs to try and cure her, but nothing worked. Everything worked partway, but not enough to kill the damned cancer cells.
In 2008, even I got pretty sure she wouldn't survive it. She didn't look happy anymore, she was bullied by her own mother who mostly relishes on other people's misery, and my mother didn't have the strength to say no, shut up, go to hell, to her own mother. I saw her go from the best and brightest and strongest, to the best, brightest and sadly the weakest. She was beautiful to the end, but she wasn't strong anymore. Then in August 2008 she stopped working and got on full time medical leave. I didn't see her much for those months. She was taking a lot of painkillers but she was still in absolute agony, and her inner strength didn't allow me to see her like that. At least, I think that's the reason. She let my dad see her, but it wasn't a surprise, they were always meant for each other - true soul mates. But for me, it was different. I was her only child, a child that doctors had for years told her she could never have. So she didn't really let me see her like that.
On December 6th 2008, my mother collapsed trying to get downstairs. We called an ambulance and she was sent to the Women's Hospital in Helsinki. She had two pulmonary embolisms, she could hardly breathe. My father drove to the hospital after the ambulance and stayed there the night. I took my bike the next morning and went as fast as I could to get a bus to Helsinki so I could see her again.
I don't know if we thought of it, but I know I was afraid she might die before I get to see her, so I had to run from the tram to the hospital. She was smiling, and she hugged me, and I didn't remember to say I love you mom to her, and I regret that so much. Because that evening, when we had left the hospital and my dad was about to call the ward to ask how she was doing, the phone rang.
They told us my mother had passed away. She had died in her sleep. A peaceful death with no pain. I collapsed against the oven in our dining room crying and my dad sat down beside me and cried as much as he had never cried. Then we drove to the hospital to see my mother one last time. I couldn't touch her. I stood right next to the bed, and wanted to hold her hand, to hug her, to say I love you, but I couldn't. I just cried. We both did, but my dad had more strength than I did and hugged her.
My mother died in her sleep on the 7th of December 2008. Exactly seven days before my 18th birthday. I will never forget it. And I don't think I should.
She was the most marvellous women I have ever met, beautiful in every way imaginable and that's how I will always remember her. The woman who smiled through the pain, through embolisms, the woman who showed me I could be strong as well, and taught me right from wrong and showed me the way to be a kind, loving person. She was my idol. Though a daddy's girl, my mother is my ultimate idol, and I love her forever, God bless her soul.
For God hath not given us a spirit of Fear, but of Power and Love and of Sound Mind.