Hannah on losing her mum

Monday 27 February 2023

Maggie's Oxford

It was just me and mum together since I was six.

Now, I am a fourth-year medical student at Birmingham University, about 30 minutes away from Maggie’s Oxford.

I like to go to the gym and swimming, I like crafts and I play on the medic’s women’s rugby team.

That all changed when my mum, Gemma, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the end of my first term.

Diagnosis and treatment

Mum started having symptoms in the summer of 2019, and in November she was rushed in for a big surgery. It was just after Christmas when she was officially diagnosed.

From there, she went straight into chemotherapy for six months during lockdown. I came home from uni in March when the whole country shut down to take care of her.

It was a lonely time but, at the end of chemo, Mum’s cancer seemed to have gone. Things were looking good for about a year.

Then in 2021, it came back.

Mum started on more chemo, which was eventually stopped. We were told at Christmas in 2021 that the cancer had spread and was now terminal.

She was in and out of hospital and quickly declined in Sobell House Hospice. She died in August 2022.

I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. All I felt was fear and uncertainty. 

Visiting Maggie’s

When Mum started coming to Maggie’s, she would always come to the hospital early to spend time in Maggie’s before her appointments.

She just loved it in the Treehouse, so suggested while I was in Birmingham that I give Maggie’s a call.

A lot of the initial support I had was over the phone, scrolling through the website and through counselling sessions on Zoom.

Mum described Maggie’s as “somewhere really warm and really calm. A place where people understood and you could talk without judgement or worry”.

While she was in hospital, I would spend a lot of time at Maggie’s. It was a peaceful place to be with my thoughts and helped me navigate this new world I had found myself in.

This was a space where I felt looked after. Maggie’s also allowed safe harbour, while Mum was in the hospital. If the doctors called, I could be by her side in two minutes.

I noticed how different I would feel before and after visiting Maggie’s.

I would feel okay walking through the door and sitting down with a cup of tea but once I got talking to a Cancer Support Specialists, I would feel safe to open up emotionally, and talk through how I was feeling.

I would feel so much lighter after visiting. Without Maggie’s, life would have been a lot harder and a lot lonelier.

Raising money in mum’s memory

Anyone who knew Mum would say she was the most selfless person, which is a trait she always instilled in me.

When she was in chemo, she took part in Maggie’s Culture Crawl and was always looking for ways to give back.

When she died, I decided to honour mum’s legacy through a Just Giving page, which has raised a phenomenal £4,870.

It was a no-brainer to raise money for Maggie’s. It meant so much to me and Mum, and I loved reading through memories and touching thoughts people left on the page.

Maggie’s means so much to me but meant even more to mum. She loved the people, the friendships and really valued the work from a personal and professional perspective as a psychologist.

What Maggie’s does as a charity means everything. Having a peaceful place to be, having an ear to support was all I needed, and I couldn’t think of a better cause to fundraise for.

We're here for you

We're here for you during this time. Call us on 0300 123 180, email enquiries@maggies.org or book a time to visit us.

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