Shortly after I began treatment for breast cancer in 2012 Mo was diagnosed with bowel cancer (a difficult one to treat) and began chemo therapy herself and sharing the treatment and being able to bitch about the side effects was a great comfort to us both. Both times my cancer was treated very aggressively which meant they gave me the highest possible dose of chemotherapy without actually killing me; although sometimes it was extremely close! Mo refused that level of treatment and began a course of reduced intensity chemo and has been having treatment ever since. A very long time.
But it appears that her cancer is very aggressive and is spreading rapidly; her kidneys are now under siege and the prognosis ain’t great and there is no evidence to support the fact that she may have improved if she’d had the more intense treatment. She was considering it recently as a last ditch attempt and my relief when she decided against it was huge. Even it if did give her a couple more months, she would have felt like shit and longed for the relief of the final curtain which would have rendered the entire process pointless where-as the way she has chosen, adequate pain relief for her remaining time, can be enjoyed and provide comfort and pleasure for all concerned.
A couple of weeks ago after a scan her oncologist told her that what remained of her life could be measured in a few short months. She was weak and debilitated by pain. A life-long wish has been to visit Tuscany; what has prevented her from achieving this desire was of course a lack of the readies. Mo is now 77 and has grafted all her life. For 16 years she was companion to an elderly German woman (always referred to as Mrs B) who was stinking rich and lived in great style in one of London’s smartest hotels. There was no doubt in my mind that when Mrs B finally popped her clogs Mo would be a beneficiary in her will. There was great affection between the two of them and Mo was of inestimable help to her; they enjoyed their relationship and had a great mutual respect. About two months ago at the age of 101! the clogs finally popped, the will was read and I was proved right: Mrs B had left Mo a legacy more than sufficient to enable her to rent a luxury villa in Tuscany where she could spend her remaining time with her beloved son James, his wife and two children. I find it the supreme irony that now that she has the means to fulfil her dream, her declining health may prohibit her from achieving this. It would also make me MEGA pissed off. Mo DESERVES the fulfilment of her dream, the means of achieving it has been provided and if the Universe doesn’t move to help her achieve the optimum degree of health necessary to enable her to travel I suggest that everyone who reads this blog, and of course I who wrote it unite in sending Mo all the love, support and laughter we contain. I’m a great believer in the power of thought and I know you won’t fail me.
She spent two days in a hospice this week where her oncology team attempted to find a level of pain control that would enable her to travel but not make her ‘ga ga’. How successful this has been I have yet to discover as I haven’t spoken to her since she arrived home. It would surely be too cruel of fate to deny her this opportunity.
But of one thing I’m sure, Mo will expire laughing. Her son James said to her shortly before he left to return to his family in Ireland, ‘don’t worry Mum, if you do peg it, I’ll take your ashes to Tuscany with me. Then I can show you around and say, ‘look Mum, here’s the swimming pool, there’s the bar, so you won’t miss anything; I’ll show your ashes everything. She was helpless with laughter as she was telling me as indeed was I. That’s Mo, nothing gets her down for long, she ALWAYS finds something to laugh at and that’s the best soul medicine there is. Go girl!!!
I have of course been totally affected by the news that I have to contemplate a future that doesn’t contain Mo and thus far I have been unable to get my head around it. And I don’t doubt that this is true for the countless number of her friends. Mo is a HUGE spirit with a passion for life that infects all who know her. She is also extremely wise, has a sense of humour that won’t quit and the stereotypical Irish love of the crack and a party! (Incidentally Mo gives WICKED parties herself; when I reminded her recently of her determination to hang on for her 80th – she’ll be 78 in June – she nodded, then said, ‘ah yes, that’s right. Mind you, I might bring it forward.’ She is warm and witty, totally open and available and at the same time the most private person I have ever met. A paradox indeed.
During all my years of depression and angst Mo was there for me despite the fact that she was uncomfortable with being exposed to great emotional excesses which she felt inadequate to deal with. She never reproached me and encouraged every small successful step I made on my long, long road to self-discovery and wholeness. I owe her a great deal, love her even more and knowing our time together is short has somewhat pissed me off. Mo too as it happens. But I also know that she will ALWAYS be with me, I will always be able to contact her effortlessly and that shows me I never have to lose contact with her wisdom which I value above all else.
Writing this has helped me so much: my sorrow at the prospect of losing Mo was great indeed but now I feel an acceptance which has freed me from the pain of impending loss. Your spirit will always be with all of us who love you Mo; you will live on in our hearts and minds, take a dominant role in our conversations and I know your Celtic soul will be felt in the wind whispering through the trees, your face seen in the clouds and your laughter heard echoing high on the crests of waves.
I love you my darling Mo, I thank-you for all the gifts you gave me and most of all for your wisdom, humanity and humour! But to get this into perspective, paragon of virtue you may be UNLESS approached on an empty stomach when you morph into an extremely good imitation of Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’ (You know it’s true babes, you know it’s true)
Go in peace Mo and thank-you for the gift of friendship from a truly remarkable woman. xxx