Why We’re Screaming: Pippa Jay

This year I turned 43. That might seem an odd kind of number to landmark, but for me it’s significant. It’s the age my mum was when she died from cancer after a four year battle. I was 19 at the time, theoretically old enough to take care of myself, but I remember feeling like my entire world had fallen apart. My life kind of stopped. If not for the support of my best friend and my then boyfriend (now my husband for 21 years), I’m not sure what might have happened to me.

So though I’ve tried hard not to think about it or remember, hitting 43 brought it back. I don’t expect to suddenly keel over just because I’ve reached the same age. My mum was ill for years, and in remission for one of them before the breast cancer she’d beaten came back and spread to her lymph glands. I remember how ill the treatment made her, and how low. It made her so sick and depressed that in the end she refused the treatment, and told us she had a few months left and that was the way she wanted it. I couldn’t believe someone would give up like that. It made me angry. I was an angry teen anyway, but now I had reason to rage. Even now I can’t accept that someone would give in like that. But then I’ve never been faced with the decision that she was. Perhaps I’d feel differently if it was me.

A few days before she died I remember coming home to find her sleeping, but I was due to go away for a few days on a trip so I woke her up to let her know I’d be leaving. I’m not sure she even took in what I was saying. I knew then that she was already drifting away. Already not really with us. But I couldn’t face watching her slip any further. I know—selfish. Cruel. I’m not proud of how I felt or what I did. Four days later, she was gone.

It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and certainly not on those I love. I don’t want my family to go through what me and my sister did. I don’t want to see anyone go through it. So please help support Scream! For a Cure. I would love to see cancer exterminated in my lifetime so that no one else ever has to watch their loved ones go through what my mum did.

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