Yesterday I received the very sad news that Michelle had died after a long and difficult battle with breast cancer. When she wrote My Mummy Wears a Wig: Does Yours? in 2007 she hoped she had beaten it. I know her book has brought great comfort to many families facing breast cancer. It is so open, honest and often very funny. Michelle was an amazing woman and my heart goes out to her family, husband and young sons.
In the final chapter she wrote –
April 17, Tuesday
I had my mammogram results today and everything is fine. I am so relieved it is finally over. I have told all my friends and family and people at work, and everyone is so happy for me. For once I do feel that I can be happy, and that this is news worth celebrating. I am not cured, they do not use that word, but I am in remission. I will be monitored for at least the next five years and I will be on Tamoxifen for five years and have a mammogram every year. I am not going to let cancer blight my life with worry and wonder what might happen and if it might come back.
I am going forward thinking that it will NOT come back, and I will not be frightened to say that. I am asking the Cosmos for my health, and with a bit of help from me along the way, I am hoping the Cosmos will give it right back to me.
I do not want my cancer to come back. I want to be cured and never to have to face this again. The fear is there, of course, and at times it can haunt you and I guess I could be small and quiet and hope that it will pass me by and not notice me again and let me live a peaceful life with Rhodri and my two boys.
But to do that would be doing a disservice to myself, because for all the darkness that it has brought to me, cancer has also brought me light. My cancer has changed me and shaped me into the person I have become.
Cancer has made me confront demons in my life that I would never have otherwise had the courage to confront. Cancer has shown me angels in the form of the people who have cared for me, and my family and friends who have stood by me and loved me. It has brought me together with my husband in a way I would never have thought possible. We started off two very different people in one place and now I feel that we are as one, united, and I would never have thought that would happen.
I thought that we might crumble, but we did not, we became stronger. My eyes half-closed to life are open because of cancer. I have made decisions that I would never otherwise have made.
So I will NOT lead the small quiet life I envisaged at some points along this journey, living in fear of cancer. I AM going to live a large and loud life, full of love and happiness with my three boys, Rhodri, Elis and Osian. I will shout at the top of my voice that I am alive and, no matter what is to come in the future, whatever life throws at me, I will catch it and throw it back and like Aslan the great lion in Narnia, I will come back the stronger person because of it.
Is is very hard to read it knowing that, in the end, this vile disease claimed her but I have used it as an illustration of what a wonderfully positive person she was. I really enjoyed working with her and getting to know her as we promoted the book. Life isn’t fair and it makes me want to rage against the injustice of it. Instead I’ll try and do something positive and raise money for cancer research. I’m also going to reread her book – it’s a great legacy to a wonderful woman and it was a privilege to publish it.