I had to be the mum I never had

PUBLISHED ON: 2 March 2018

After her mum died of breast cancer, Kally was devastated when she was diagnosed aged 45. We spoke to her and her sons, who tell us about how their love got them through and why their mum's a #MumOfAKind. 

Kally and her sons

I never knew my mum 

It was 45 years ago this month that my mum died of breast cancer. I was about to turn five years old. I don't remember much about her, and from the moment she died, no one in my family spoke about her. Her life, and cancer, became a taboo subject.  

I don't think anyone will know how much I struggled through life without my mum. My dad remarried, but I never wanted to cause friction in the family, so never asked any questions.  

It's been like a ticking bomb 

Kally's mum and dad

Since mum died I grew up thinking that I would get breast cancer. Because we never spoke about it I didn’t know if it was hereditary or not. Throughout my life I have felt this weight looming towards me, and after having my two boys I lived in fear that they would be left alone if I died. 

When I was 40 I found a lump, which turned out to be a cyst. Because of my mum, the doctor recommended I had yearly mammograms. It was in one of the routine scans that the doctor spotted a shadow. I didn't have any symptoms and hadn't even realised that there could be signs other than a lump.  

I was terrified at being recalled 

I couldn't tell the boys. I'd brought them up on my own since they were aged five and one. I felt so protective of them. Indi, my eldest, was 25 by that point. My sister-in-law was an amazing support, and encouraged me to talk to him. But I couldn't tell Kyran, my youngest. He had his driving test in the same week as my appointment and I didn't want to distract him. 

Indi came along with me to the doctor. During the ultrasound the nurses were being so nice, but I couldn't speak - I froze. I had no voice. I knew they had found something.  

A few days later we went back to get the results. My son was with me when the doctor said those words, 'You have cancer.' The world stopped.  

I started to lose faith 

I really struggled to get my head round it. I thought, 'Why me? Hadn't I had enough bad luck?' But I thought, 'If not me, would it be someone else?' My son was so supportive the whole way through. He said, 'It's because you're the strongest soldier,' and we managed to laugh about it. 

Indi was so grown up. He told Kyran and my dad about my diagnosis while I sat there. I couldn't get the words out. They have both handled it so well.  

My dad also gave me so much support. He travelled by bus daily to see me after my mastectomy. He believes in his faith so much and never gave up hope, and he passed that on to me.

I am immensely proud of my sons 

Kally at her sons graduation

They both wanted to be there for me the whole time. Kyran was in his final year at university, and he still graduated with a first. At his graduation I shouted, 'I'm proud of you my son!' Everyone laughed. Only I knew what I really meant.  

I've always been independent, but after five surgeries in a year I do feel weaker than before. The boys help out, and do the vacuuming, and joke that I use my diagnosis as an excuse! We have to laugh about it. It allows us to talk about it, and not fear the 'C word'. They're so open with their emotions, it's so different to how I grew up. 

I had to be the mum I never had 

I have one photo of my mum, but she's always in my heart. I have always wondered if we are alike. Do we look similar? Were her habits the same? What was her favourite colour? I needed a mum, and I needed to talk about it. Through my sons I have been able to.  

The first time I spoke to my dad about her was when I found the cyst. I asked for her death certificate, and he asked 'Why?' It was only then that he realised how much I had missed her.  

From the little I know about my mum, I know she had a huge heart. I know that she was special. When my sons first saw the photo of her they said: 'Mum, you look so like her!' It made me so happy to know that she is within me. 

She's been my guardian angel – without her, I would never have gone for yearly mammograms. She saved my life.

Kally and her sons

Indi's story

The first time my mum told me about being recalled, I immediately broke down. At first I found it easier to push away the emotions and hide from them, but after a while I realised I wasn't facing them. I just couldn't imagine how I'd cope without my mum being there.  

I learnt to focus on the moment, enjoying being with my mum, rather than be anxious about the future. My brother and I spoke a lot, he often acted like the older brother. We're a very close family and we knew we could get through it by supporting each other. 

Mum is amazing. Even after coping with so much she has such a warm energy. When others crumple she puts a smile on their face. I don't know what I'd do without her, but I do know that she is special. 

Kyran's story

I knew that my grandmother had died of breast cancer, but knew nothing about it. I knew that cancer was bad and it could lead to death. But none of my friends ever spoke about it. 

My mum and brother told me about her diagnosis the day after I passed my driving test. I went from a high to such a low. I was scared, and knew my mum had always feared it too.  

Because of how my mum has raised me I have always been a positive person. I knew that we could get through it together. My mum raised us by herself and had to take on all of the responsibility of providing for us, juggling jobs. So often people can get lost in trying to provide, and lose track of what family really means, but she's always been there for us.  

There are a million reasons why my mum is #MumOfAKind! She's worked so hard for everything that she has. She has shown us how to love. My family is my priority, and that's all because of my mum. 

Tell us why your mother's a Mum of a Kind

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