1st September 2014 – a day I’ll never forget. Sitting in my mum’s hospital room waiting, waiting, and waiting. My mum had had challenges with her health for the past 12 months or so, test after test, and nothing was found. This is what led us to this day, and the operation my mum was undergoing – an attempt at opening the stomach and possibly removing some ‘nasty’ unknown thing inside. From this day, our lives would change forever. About 5 hours after mum had been in, we were given the news. The head surgeon came to the room, where I was anxiously waiting alongside my dad and one of my sisters, the moment we saw his face we knew things weren’t good. ‘I’m sorry to say, there’s nothing we could do, Cancer is all over the stomach and there is no cure. We give approx. 6-12 months – if that’.
From that day my life changed. My heart sank, for my mum, for my dad and for my family. My first thought? WHY! Why my mum? Why does this have to happen to my kids Grandma who they adore soooooooo much! This is not fair!!!
Less than 3 months later my beautiful mum, who I adored and loved with all my heart, passed away. My mum was the rock of my family, she loved unconditionally, always supported me in all I would do, and she would ALWAYS put others first. My mum was the kind of person who would always give, without expectation of receiving a thing. I can honestly say that I have never met anyone like her. The most amazing, hands on, loving grandmother any child could ever wish for.
December 5th 2014, surrounded by all of her family, Colleen Wineera’s journey here on earth came to an end. My heart literally broke! I truly felt my heart shatter. I felt physically sick and felt like I had been cheated, I felt my dad had been cheated, I felt my children had been cheated. Our time with our amazing mum had been cut way too short. We needed her. We love her. We want her here with us. We want to see her smile. We want to hear her voice. We want to share our achievements, we want guidance, we want cuddles, and it is just not fair! I do still have questions that run through my mind that I know they may never be answered.
The weeks following my mums passing were the toughest weeks of my life. I was mourning my mum and I needed to be strong for my 4-year-old daughter who was mourning her Grandma (the first person she has lost) who she loves so dearly. I would cry myself to sleep (once the kids were asleep) and I knew my daughter was doing the same thing. They had an extremely close relationship, one she will treasure forever.
Before my mum passed, she explained to my daughter that one day Grandma would be going somewhere and she may not get to see her (physically), she explained that when that day came, grandma would be on a new journey and she explained that when she saw a Rainbow, she should think of Grandma, as she will be in the rainbow, looking out for us all. As you can imagine, rainbows now have a significant meaning for all of our family.
I have so many people I am thankful for, who were there for me when I needed them most, in particular my husband, my children, my family and my close friends. Without their support during this time, I really don’t know what I would do and what state I would be in. I am extremely blessed to have people in my life that offered their love and support in so many ways, I will forever be thankful to them, and I will never forget them. You know who you are, and I LOVE YOU!
Whilst mourning for our mother and trying our best to prepare for Christmas day, as this was mums favourite time of year, we received more news that would impact our family moving forward. Prior to my mum passing, my mother requested she be tested for a gene mutation, she wanted to ensure that if there was anything that ran in the family, we could be tested and deal with it before it was too late. Our mums results came in from the genetic testing. It was confirmed – mum carried the CDH1 gene mutation (more detail on this to follow). It was also now suspected that my sister, who passed away at the age of 31 years (Cancer related), also carried this genetic mutation. Carrying this gene means you have a high risk of developing a rare type of gastric cancer (which my mum had). It is extremely difficult to detect, and once detected it is generally incurable. If you are a carrier of this gene, there is a 50% chance of passing this gene onto each of your children. This was just another thing to add to the mix of emotions we were already dealing with, again I would ask myself, why??? Why do we have to go though this when we are still mourning for our mother? Little did I know, this was the start of a new journey in my life!
Four months on from my mums passing, my 6 siblings and I have now all been tested and have all received our results…