I lost my beloved mum, Cath, to breast cancer five years ago. My family and I were able to spend 11 more years with mum after they found the first tumour in 2001 but unfortunately it came back in her pancreas and she eventually lost the battle with this devastating disease in 2012.
Mother’s Day is a particularly hard time of year for me. It’s another step of grief that I have to overcome each year and it never gets easier. Walking down the high street fills me with dread as every shop is a huge celebration of motherhood and a stark reminder that I am without my own.
I think of the women out there today who have too, lost their mum, or their grandmother, or another female close to them and I want to let them know they are not alone. It’s ok for us to be upset at this time of year and to feel isolated amongst the traditional Mother’s Day celebrations – it’s so important that as women we know we are not alone in this, that we talk to each other about that grief and to do something good with it.
Losing my mum to breast cancer made me determined to get the word out there and spread awareness of breast cancer. And she is the reason I’m so passionate about the research that Breast Cancer Now funds. I am also passionate about turning her death into something positive and if I could personally make just one other woman aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for, well that would be incredibly gratifying and I would be safe in the knowledge that my mum would be beyond proud.
I want to encourage women to be aware of their breasts – that’s simply knowing what your breasts look and feel like normally for you, looking out for any unusual changes and getting them checked out by your doctor, because the sooner you check, the sooner you might notice something.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk about breast awareness without it being a taboo. It should be something we speak about with our girlfriends and female relatives on a regular basis. Don’t worry about being dramatic if you find something unusual or that you’re worried about, go and see your doctor because that’s what could save your life.
As we lead up to Easter and the colour yellow starts appearing everywhere, I am constantly reminded of my mum. She was the epitome of yellow – vibrant and sunny with a positivity so infectious. As many people often said: “Cath Riley, once met, never forgotten” and they were right, she was unforgettable and she was taken from us too soon. I’d do anything to hear her voice today, on Mother’s Day. So please do something in her memory today and check your breasts. It’s so important.
And for all the women reading this who have also lost their mother I want to say this: use that pain to raise awareness and stand together with other women to make sure by 2050 nobody has to die from this horrible disease ever again. I know how proud that would make my mum and that gives me a world of comfort today.”
Lisa is supporting Breast Cancer Now this Mother’s Day. For more information about breast cancer and to learn more about what signs and symptoms to look out for, please visit breastcancernow.org