Today is International Women’s day and I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate my mum who I sadly lost earlier this year, just 7 months after her she was diagnosed with cancer. I’m celebrating her not just because she was my mum and of course I loved her and miss her very much, but because she really was the most optimistic and strong person suffering through such a harsh and cruel illness that I could ever imagine.
We were all amazed at how upbeat and happy mum sounded in the face of chemotherapy, repeated hospitalisation, a major operation and incredibly poor general physical health. At her funeral, so many of her friends shared with me how in awe they were of mum’s strength throughout the whole ordeal. So was I!
It’s such a great comfort for me to know that mum didn’t just say these things to make everyone else feel better. She genuinely did focus on the positives in her life throughout those last months. The many friends that checked in on her regularly and did fun things together with her when she was strong enough. The daily phone calls from me and my sister with the noise of her young grandchildren in the background. The 4 months of the 7 that my family and I were lucky enough to be able to spend together with her in Sweden. For that I’m so immensely grateful and this is a major comfort to me amidst the pain of losing her. We really did create some of our loveliest memories together and she got to properly know my little girl – her granddaughter – which wouldn’t have been possible if we were in the UK as much as usual.
So I’m celebrating mum and her impressive strength and positivity today both because I want to recognise her, but also because her attitude during these months depicted everything I try to achieve in my work. The power of our thoughts on how we feel and perceive our reality. We always have a choice, however tough things are. Not much would feel more bleak and depressing than dying of an aggressive cancer if you let it. Of course mum would have been well within her rights to feel sorry for herself and mourn the years she wouldn’t be here to continue enjoying the social life she worked so hard to build up in recent years or to see the grandchildren grow up. But she chose to be grateful for having these things in her life NOW, in her last few months. And made them, for the most part, happy. For herself and for those around her.
I often say that what we focus on we get more of. In these 7 months mum focused on feeling loved and appreciated and that’s exactly what she got. I hope mum can set an example that others can learn from – start focusing on what YOU want in your life. And enjoy having more of it!