I was reading the crappy local paper recently and the front page story broke my heart.
The story told of a young policewoman, named Natalie Newman. Natalie had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 and when they went in to operate on her they found that she actually had another mass in her ovaries.
As we know, ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because it is undetectable by PAP smear and many woman disregard the symptoms as other things until it is much too late.
Anyway, Natalie, fought that cancer and has gone on to live her life with her beautiful daughter. She recently got her 5 year ‘all-clear’ from the doctors….and all is rosy.
Natalie is a 33 year old, single mum and her daughter Emily, is eight years old.
Eight years old is not as young as it used to be. I imagine Emily is starting to have strange feelings about boys, to be more self-conscious about her appearance and all the other normal range of things that happen to young girls as they approach their teens.
So, why did my heart break, you ask?
Because just weeks after they told Natalie that her cancer wouldn’t come back, she has been diagnosed with an inoperable ovarian cancer that is going to end her life.
Probably sooner rather than later.
It would be natural for Natalie to fear her fate, to be angry at the world, but she seems gracious and wonderful. Her deepest sorrow is that she will not be there to see her daughter become a woman. She won’t be able to soothe her through her first heartbreak, to watch her walk down the aisle, or to ever smell the sweet, smell of her grandchildren.
She has fought as much as she could, not for her, but for her daughter, and she has vowed to fight every single step of the way if it means one more day with Emily.
Her cancer has now spread to her lymph nodes, her lungs and diaphragm so things are not looking great…..and you know what she said?
She said she tries to live by the proverb –
I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man that has no feet.
Yep, I cried at the thought. I like shoes, I like feet…..but you know why I was really crying.
Imagine knowing that you brought your child into the world and then you were forced to say goodbye to them forever. Emily is still a child who needs her mother.
A very sad thing indeed.
Natalie’s boss, Superintendent Dave Donohue is planning on doing a 7 km swim in Sydney’s South (La Perouse to Doll’s Point, for those who know it) in a bid to raise money for Emily’s education and care after her mother is gone.
He’s a good guy, I reckon. He has an 11 year old daughter and he says it’s hard to imagine not being around for her.
It is hard to imagine, isn’t it?
I think losing your child prematurely is a terrible, horrible thing, and knowing you would be leaving them prematurely would have to be a close second.
Before I had children I would have thought this a sad story, but now that I can imagine how I would feel in that position, I think it’s tragic.
I know tragedy occurs every day in a million different ways, but something about Natalie and Emily’s story made me take pause.
Anyway, if you want to contribute to the Swim for Emily you can do that here, but that’s not necessarily why I’m sharing this sad, beautiful story of courage and solidarity and love.
I’m sharing it because life is really precious. We are, in many ways, so tough and resilient, but we are also very fragile.
Remember to tell people you love them, remember to forgive freely because holding grudges and anger can manifest in your cells.
Remember to know yourself enough to be aware of changes in your body, and remember to love yourself enough to go and see a doctor as quickly as you can.
Mostly, remember every day is a gift.
The precious present.