After that appointment, mum spoke to her doctors about focusing on ways to deal with her pain and fatigue, she continued going to the gym, taking the dog for walks and seeing her friends. Even then, she was putting me to shame with how much she could achieve in just one day. Not to mention her social life was way more impressive too. However, after a few months she started getting very tired and needed more and more rests before going out and doing things. After sharing a really nice Christmas with her and the summer holidays, her abdomen started to swell from fluid. She had to have a few times it drained to relieve the pressure and discomfort.
She had planned to go to Tasmania in February with David, it was the last destination on her bucket list. During the last week of her visit to Tasmania, her breathing became really bad and so did her pain. She was admitted into Hobart Hospital to try and recover for a few days until she was able to fly home. For the first time since she was diagnosed she was put on oxygen. David stayed with her at the hospital for the extra days it took to be cleared to fly. She flew back home the beginning of March. It was very hard to see her when I picked her up from the airport, mainly because she left walking and seemingly fine and then she came back, in a wheelchair and on oxygen.
Over the next week, I moved back home for a few days to spend time with her, even then, the sickest she ever was, she still helped me with my Tafe homework and started teaching my friends and I how to make 70’s inspired macramé hanging baskets. She would still brush her hair and put on a nice dress for visitors – even though just putting a dress on took her several hours, was incredibly painful and she’d have to have a long rest afterwards. Mum refused, even in that last week, to let that horrible disease take away her dignity.
The next week she went back to Strathfield hospital to have her abdomen drained, it was just routine like before, she went in on Monday and was meant to come home Wednesday morning. The procedure went well and she was actually beginning to feel better. Early morning on Wednesday the 16th of March she called the nurses in complaining of breathing difficulties and lost consciousness, they tried to revive her but couldn’t and she passed away.
For my family and myself, it has been an incredibly hard year and with Christmas coming up it’s beginning to feel like it’s getting even harder, especially considering how much mum absolutely loved Christmas. But, although losing her seemed like the end of the world, she leaves behind a lifetime of amazing memories; she’s definitely passed on a lot of her strength and positivity, and has touched the lives of everyone she met. She is my biggest inspiration and I miss her greatly every second of every day, but I consider myself incredibly lucky to have known her and I absolutely cherish the time we had together.
She was the strongest woman I will ever know and I whole-heartedly believe that it was her sheer determination, dignity, positivity and constant strength that played the biggest part in her surviving as long as she did. And I think that is one the greatest lesson she left behind.
(Executives note – adfa would like to thank the Piper Family for sharing their stories. Jenny and the family are an inspiration to all of us.)