Jaemi Maher is raising money for The Canberra Hospital in memory of her Mumma Bear, Debbie Maher. You can donate to Team Debsta here: https://au.dryjuly.com/team/teamdebsta
This is Jaemi’s story:
I still remember the day my Mum came home from a “normal” Doctor’s appointment. I raced to the door to tell her about my first day of my new job - she burst into tears holding her face. She told me that they found a lump on her lung and it could be Cancer.
This all happened in March 2012.
Life was perfect. My Mum is my best friend. I don’t have any siblings so was very spoilt with her unconditional love. My Dad doesn’t live with me. It was just her and I in our own world.
The Cancer was found in her lung - she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She hated that. She hated that people thought that smoking caused her to be sick. We then quickly found out the Cancer was everywhere - spine, liver, elbow, you name it, it was there.
I remember her telling me that worst case scenario she had 6-12 months left. I cried endlessly. She said “I know this is hard and it’s only going to get tougher - but if I go, you will still have Honey and Evie” (our dogs) Somehow she always brought light on any dark situation.
She started her Chemotherapy treatments. I found it so hard to concentrate at work. I would sit there and stare out of the window just thinking about “what if..” which brought me to tears.
I attended one of her Chemo Treatments one day. My Mum put on this amazing brave face. I remember looking at her in that big chair, needle in her hand and arm and thinking “WOW, we’re going to be fine - she will fight this Cancer off with no troubles..”
I continued living my life, that’s how she wanted me to be. She never wanted me to worry or get upset with her. But then the bad news started rolling in.. I would get a phone call from her whilst out shopping or doing my normal weekend/afternoon activities. I’d answer the phone and she would just cry. I would race home not knowing if I wanted to know the news or not - I just knew it would be bad.
The Cancer was then found in her brain. I hated that day.
By then, she was barely at work anymore. People started to ask questions, but she really didn’t want anyone to know. But then she started to lose her hair. I remember her saying “Well, everyone is going to know now, so may as well make the most of it!” She was so brave. Braver then I could ever be. She got her head shaved and began to wear turbans. To be honest, she looked so cute and adorable with these on.
She began to lose her mobility about December 2012. She couldn’t drive, she could barely walk to the car for treatments and she could barely make it to the toilet. I am blessed to have my Nanny and Pa to help my Mum throughout her entire illness. Without them, I think I would have hurt a lot more. I remember hearing her fall over one morning. I sprinted to down to her and we just laid there and cried. We never talked about “Death” or what would happen if she “died”. Instead, we spoke about silly things, nice things and dreams.
On Tuesday the 26th of February, I woke up to do my normal morning routine - give her the concoction of drugs, followed by some kind of liquid breakfast like an icy pole, help her to the toilet and then sit with her whilst she waits for the pain relief to kick in. When I got to her room, she wasn’t in her bed. Instead, she was lying on the floor. She had attempted to go to the toilet (which was a commode next to her bed) by herself. I was so mad at her. She told me she had only been on the floor for 10 minutes but I knew she wasn’t telling the truth. I went to work feeling so angry, hurt, upset, and worried. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up calling her Doctor and was able to see him that day. He came over for a house call that night and said to Mum “In the short term, you can stay here. But for now you need to choose between the Hospital or the Hospice..” Mum replied “Here” as she was sitting up in bed. She was so stubborn - but I love that about her.
The next day, Mum went unconscious at 11:30am. She woke up though was not herself. She knew what was happening. She was dying. She told me “I’m scared because I know where I have to go…” It was the most emotional 24 hours of my entire life. She peacefully passed away, in her own bed, with her loving family around her on the morning of Thursday the 28th of February. She was THAT close to making it to 12 months since diagnosis.
I am so proud of her. She fought hard and in the end she got what she wanted - which is something I will continually strive towards for the rest of my life.
I love you every day, Mumma Bear.