Deceiving ‘wellness’


I posted this picture on Facebook last week. Everyone keeps commenting on how well my Mum looks. How she’s amazing. How strong we all are.

My Mum is amazing. She was comatose a few weeks ago and we thought she’d die. She very nearly did. Since then she’s regained some mobility, knitted two baby cardigans (ready for if my brothers and I ever have kids), proof-read two essays for me, been to the cinema a few times, shared lots of laughter, given me hugs, and shared many happy moments with friends and family.

But Mum is by no means ‘well’. She’s a heck of a lot better than she was when she was in hospital, but she’s not well. She has terminal cancer; it has invaded her body and stolen her health. When you look at the pictures and see us smiling together, we are happy and we are enjoying the time we have together, yes, but pictures can be deceiving.

Mum and I spent a lovely day together on Friday , we were happy and enjoying ourselves. However, what you don’t see is that she’s sleeping for 15+ hours a day. You didn’t see her walking into the building with her stick (she’s come so far – a few weeks ago it would have been a frame or wheelchair). You also didn’t see her not finish her meal, or notice how much weight she’s lost. You didn’t hear me ring up before the event to check access requirements – there has to be a disabled toilet and can’t be too many stairs. A year ago my Mum was climbing hills with us in the Dales, that’s just a few examples of how cancer can affect a previously fit, healthy, woman.

You didn’t see me worrying the day before because I hadn’t seen Mum in a few weeks and wasn’t sure where her health would be. You didn’t hear my Dad and I discussing life, death and health all the way back to uni. You didn’t see me crying on Saturday night, because I found similar pictures of us from 14 months ago and the difference shocked me.

I love my Mum and I’m so glad she’s still with us. She’s amazing and she’s come so far. Compared to a few weeks ago, she really is ‘well’. But please don’t assume that she’s better, or recovered. She’s not going to recover and she’s not going to get better. She is dying, however much that’s a taboo word and however much people don’t want to talk about it. Don’t hold out false hope, because it will only be harder when she goes downhill again.

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